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Why meaningful connections matter

Jun 17, 2024

I recently came across the following blog, written for us by the very fabulous Hazel Morley who we were once very lucky to have as part of The Winning Edge Facilitator team, until she left for foreign shores. I found her writings so interesting and thought I’d share because it’s certainly got me thinking about the relationships in my life.

No one is an island

What makes relationships last? How can we enjoy more fulfilling connections? How can we repair broken ones/ take responsibility for getting our emotional needs met/ adjust expectations and thoughts about another’s behaviour to avoid conflict and stress/ ensure self-care in times of difficulty/ways to build trust and respect etc etc. Relationships can be so complex but ultimately, do we want to live without them?

It’s important to prioritise human connection to develop healthy relationships for many reasons. Not least because as human beings we are inherently social animals and feeling isolated and lonely is a stress factor that poses a health risk that’s apparently comparable to smoking or obesity. Also, the stress from toxic relationships can contribute to chronic disease when it persists over time.

Extensive studies show that social support is critical for long term health and psychological wellbeing. When we are connected and supported, we tend to perform better and enjoy life more.

These are my people

You may have heard about people who live in The Blue Zones- they are five specific places in the world where people are living considerably longer, healthier and happier lives. There is a fascinating Netflix series focusing on each of the five areas and explaining what makes them so unique. Okinawa, an island southwest of Japan, has more centenarians than most. One of the lifestyle characteristics they claim is key to their longevity and vitality is having a secure, social network, (traditionally known as a Moai). It’s a group of people who commit to providing mutual support and respect. In all five blue zones social connectedness is an integral part of the culture.

Closer to home, a study commissioned by BBC experts ‘The Surprising Benefits of Talking to Strangers’, suggested that extremely happy individuals have strong social relationships and support. Nicholas Epley, Professor of Behavioural Science at the University of Chicago conducted various experiments asking people (introverts and extroverts) to strike up conversations with strangers. The findings revealed that, despite people's misgivings, when we reach out, with good intentions, it has a positive impact on our wellbeing as both parties feel happier.

Holding yourself accountable

So…assuming you would like to enjoy more than the average 30k days in a lifetime, and that your health and happiness is important to you, there are some very worthwhile benefits to making relationship building a priority.

What kind of relationships do you have in different areas of your life? What is the quality of these relationships? Do you have lots of contacts but few connections? Are there any relationships that would benefit from some additional care and attention?

If you have attended a Winning Edge course, you will be familiar with the concept of the Goodwill Account. It’s an emotional bank account if you will, that you have with each person that you know. You will make deposits- such as a good turn, a meaningful exchange and so forth, and you will make withdrawals – asking for a favour, turning up late, not keeping a promise. The question is, are you overdrawn in your Goodwill Account with anyone?

Here’s a few questions that may provoke some further thought on the topic. Some will be more relevant than others, depending upon whether it’s a personal or professional relationship that you have in mind.

  • What are you doing to foster community and social connection – without screens?
  • What part are you playing in creating or maintaining dysfunctional relationships, be they between partners, colleagues, parents and children, siblings or other family members?
  • What action can you take to resolve the challenges?
  • What assumptions are you making about another person that stops you from connecting? (e.g. they won’t like me, they won’t want to engage/won’t be interested, or they won’t react well). How are you using your imagination to limit yourself in your relationships?
  • Are these assumptions true, or (possibly/certainly) untrue? What actual (versus imagined) evidence do you have to support them?
  • What are your expectations of other people? Are you expecting them to meet all your needs? Are you expecting/waiting for them to change their behaviour? Are your expectations keeping you disconnected?
  • Where’s your focus? Is it expecting success, avoiding failure, or expecting failure? Is it rooted in the past (‘I’ve never been good with people’), the present moment or in the future (‘they probably won’t agree to it’)?
  • Are you finding fault, blaming and complaining? Are you wearing the victim T-shirt and using victim language?
  • Are you people-pleasing and feeling compromised, resentful or stressed?
  • What is your motivation when interacting with others – to give in order to receive? Are you relying on your status (e.g. as a manager) for co-operation or are you working on building your stature?
  • Do you have your own sense of purpose, identity and interests outside of the relationship i.e. you are interdependent? Or are you independent or dependent?

Getting in the zone

There are plenty of tools in the Winning Edge toolkit that can help us to become better connected, for personal and professional purposes. At the heart of these tools is an understanding of what motivates others- what values, emotional needs and principles drive their decisions and choices. Asking some great questions and showing genuine interest will help you understand another’s mental map of the world and enable you to build trust and respect. Without this, there is no meaningful, lasting connection or likelihood of support. By adopting The Winning Edge principles of communication, you will find other people more willing to co-operate and collaborate.

You’ll be building your own Moai and adding years to your life– what’s not to like about that?


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If you would like to explore The Winning Edge tools to build and maintain stronger and meaningful relationships, both personally and professionally, find out about our LIVE events. The next one takes place in London in October 2024. Visit

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