• Anne Cotterell

What Meaning Do You Bring to Your Connecting?

As humans, our sense of self is profoundly shaped by our social environment. Social pleasure and pain are wired into our operating system and influence our motivational landscape. Disconnection from the social environment, whether on an interpersonal, organisational or societal level, is a primary source of human suffering. You may have experienced this personally through job loss, career transition or relationship breakdowns.

We instinctively create brain-to-brain connections between ourselves and others. In doing so our brain sees other people as reflections of ourselves, coding the actions of others in a way so that we experience what we observe. We instinctively put ourselves in the shoes of the person, we empathise with what they are feeling and experiencing. Have you noticed that when someone smiles at you, it takes more effort not to smile than to smile back 😃?

Have you also noticed that you don’t have the same instinct for objects? Consider a chair you might be sitting on. While our brain is wired for connection with other humans, it is not so for objects. This has relevance when we begin to objectify others, when we perceive them as threatening our sense of self. We don’t respond to objects, so our capacity to empathise and connect with people we objectify is limited.

What disconnects us from our natural response to form human connections?

Intentionally engaging our natural response to form human connections: four key practices


Marco Iacoboni, ‘Mirroring People: The new science of how we connect with others. Straus and Giroux, USA, 2008

Matthew D Lieberman – Social’ – Why our brains are wired to connect. Broadway Books, USA, 2014

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