Posted by Jacinta Hin on August 1, 2008

In the train the other day I observed a somewhat disturbing scene between a man and a woman. She, red-eyed and teary, was looking for his attention to which he was completely unresponsive. He was slightly turned away from her and had his eyes closed.

Perhaps they had recently broken up, or she had just received some bad news. She seemed desperate and in need of sympathy and love. He merely seemed tired and enjoying an afternoon nap.

His lack of empathy was painful to watch. Only because she continued to seek a reaction from him, I knew they were together. In all other ways they looked like complete strangers.

Roaming the train I noticed more people oblivious of the person they were with, not showing any sign of acknowledgment of each others existence. When it was their stop to get off the train, a little nod or a single word betrayed almost by accident a connection, but once on the platform they would quickly return to their disengaged mode.

I see this lack of connection between people everyday. Customers unaware of the feelings of those who serve them, teammates not being on the same line, managers apathetic of their staff’s perspective, couples refusing to hear what the other person is saying.

Disconnection often starts with a self-centered look at things, a sense of righteousness about one’s own beliefs. This often makes us dismissive of other people’s feelings and experiences. Introverts (like me) are sometimes so inwardly focused that they no longer see the world around them, which can make them ignorant of others.

Before we know it, we are indifferent, uninterested and, as a result, disconnected. We operate on different wavelengths, go in different directions.

Yet human beings (and anything else on the planet) are connected by default. We are really never completely disconnected. It is the quality that impacts us and everything around us positively or negatively.

By denying her even the smallest sign of acknowledgment the man in the train possibly destroyed something in his companion, while he could easily have comforted her with a little smile or some other loving gesture.

We are often unaware of how the way we connect influences others. We think our behavior is our own business (and right) and fail (refuse) to take responsibility for any repercussions that it may cause.

Even the slightest effort on our side to pay more attention to our daily interactions can make a world of difference. All it takes is willingness and awareness.


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5 Comments so far
  1. electromozzo July 28, 2009 9:56 am

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