3 Keys to Building Connection


Connecting with one another is an innate human need, though it may seem scary and challenging at times. Connection is always available to us once we get out of our heads and into the present moment with one another.

Through 20 years of working with groups, we’ve found that there are 3 main components to facilitating connection:


1. Physical Contact – Connection at the Body Level

More and more studies are showing that touch signals safety and trust. It stimulates the body’s vagus nerve, our compassionate response, and can trigger the release of oxytocin, which makes us feel closer and more bonded.

For over a year we have been deprived of physical touch as a means of connection in our personal and professional lives. Physical connection with yourself and your environment – taking a deep breath, feeling your feet on the ground beneath you or placing a hand over your heart – sends a similar signal of safety and trust that allows you to feel connected to others.

As we start to return to in-person workplaces and events, something as simple as a handshake, hive-five, or standing shoulder to shoulder can peel away at the veil of separation that contributes to the feeling of “otherness”.

When facilitating physical touch, it’s always important to remember to receive permission and acknowledge the clear intention with another person, or the opposite effect can take place. In the right circumstances, touch can bring people much closer, much more quickly.

Ritual can be a powerful tool for building connection, especially when we can’t have physical contact – learn more from senior facilitator Julia Winston.



2. Vulnerability – Connection at the Heart Level

Meaningful self-disclosure is extremely important to building trust and creating depth in a relationship.

Sharing something meaningful about our personal lives, experiences, beliefs, or dreams is an incredibly vulnerable act. It opens our hearts to others and helps us feel connected beyond the superficial details of our lives.

Being authentic, honest, and open with others allows others to be authentic, honest, and open with us – without fear of rejection. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we give permission for others to do the same. This is where we can find true compassion and connection.

In this article, our senior facilitator Adam Rosendahl shares some easy tools to bring vulnerability into your next meeting or event.



3. Playfulness – Connection at the Mind Level

Play activates us on the level of the mind, and brings out child-like wonder and joy. At its best, play is a transcendental state that helps us to be fully present, immersed in the moment, and surrendered to the joy of the journey.

More than an activity, play is a mindset. A culture of play creates a community of safety, dissolves habitual roles, and unlocks our highest capacities. To take a playful approach is to invoke wonder, curiosity and a world of infinite possibilities. It is about learning to let things be messy, to let go of being goal oriented, and to be curious about what you will learn about yourself along the way.

Play de-crystallizes the mind, and breaks down rigid patterns of thought by lighting up the brain and creating new neural pathways, literally making you smarter.

In this short video, our founder Jenny Sauer-Klein explains the importance of play in her Ignite Talk: Taking a Stand for Play.