How can we better connect with people?, with Ashley Pallathra & Ted Brodkin

In this episode of the podcast, I interview Ashley Pallathra (twitter) and Edward Brodkin (twitter), co-authors of Missing Each Other: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections. Our modern world seems increasingly isolated, in how we separate ourselves from others, in how many of our communal activities and institutions have gone away, in how we are increasingly online. Also, in our increasingly politically polarized world, we also end up thinking more negatively of other people, which results in us being less charitable, less humane. In this interview, we talk about the obstacles we face in our attempts to form better connection with others, and how we might connect better.

Podcast links:

Topics discussed include:

  • Is the modern world growing increasingly isolated?
  • What are some inherent obstacles to us connecting well with each other?
  • How there can be an existential paradox within attempting to connect well with others: we have to both maintain our own self boundaries, and also focus on the other person, and this can create a bit of a conflict.
  • How other people’s emotional contagiousness can be one reason why connection can feel threatening.
  • How connecting well with others requires us to be generous of spirit, to be forgiving of others’ mis-steps and mistakes.
  • How there can be physical aspects of connection (being physically relaxed; having a physical feeling of connection) and other more intellectual, philosophical aspects of connection (thinking about how we are all humans; being generous and giving, etc.)
  • How our political polarization, the us vs them dynamic, can make us pessimistic about connecting with others.
  • How it’s important to focus on our desire to connect and taking small steps and not feeling like there’s any one right way to connect better.
  • How therapists may rely on being in touch with their patients’ moods to get a sense of emotionally important content.
  • How there is value to connecting well even to people we dislike, or think are horrible.

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