I love to share what I'm reading on my blog, because some people have time to read a blog, not an entire book.
I've always been intrigued with the work of The Gottman Institute. They have this nifty relationship research facility called The Love Lab in Seattle, Washington. In their work with tens of thousands of couples, they can, with over 90% accuracy predict if a couple will divorce within 6 years.
That's incredible! So I wonder why more of us don't get informed? Probably because we'd rather read a blog than a book, or because we've been taught that you go to therapy if there's something wrong with you.
It blows my mind that human connection is the one thing we were wired for, but have the least training in. If you want to learn to dance, you take dance lessons. If you want to learn to ride a horse, you go to a stable. For some reason, we don't see that learning how to relationship better can be the single most rewarding thing we can do in our lives.
I will tell you I haven't even finished the book yet but am so blown away by the the simple yet powerful concept I've learned so far. I blog here today to share with you about bids.
Bids are an invitation to connect emotionally to another human being. It can be a question, a gesture, a touch, a look. It can be any one expression that says, "I want to feel connected to you.". It's not overt, in fact bids are those dozens of ordinary day-to-day exchanges of emotional information and interest. We do this in all our relationships, co-workers, parents, kids and lovers.
You know what the simple most powerful indicator of relationship success is? How two people respond to bids.
There are 3 ways that bids are responded to:
1. Turning toward-reacting in a positive way to another's bid for emotional connection.
2. Turning away-usually involves ignoring or acting preoccupied (think cell phone distraction or changing the subject)
3. Turning against-responding in a belligerent, agressive or argumentative way to a bid. Also marked by hostility or a suppression of feelings.
Seems pretty elementary. But the problem with Numbers 2 and 3 is that the research shows that once most people's bids are rejected, the probability that they will re-bid is close to zero.
That is the beginning of the end. That is what starts that slow drift between friends, family and couples.
Here's the good news. Bids works kinda like a bank account. People who have established over time a solid "bids" system where trust has been built, can give their partners a break when conflict arises, or when there is a distraction or a turning away.
Couples who consistently turn toward bids for connection have a deep well of humor, affection and interest to dip into even during an argument.
This isn't just about romantic relationships. This applies across the board from co-workers, parents and children to sibling relationships.
It's true that failure to connect with others can hinder your work relationships, interfere with your friendships and weaken your relationships with relatives, including your kids. It can even ruin your marriage.
But here's the deal, connecting is not magic. It's not reserved for the ivy league or those with lots of money. Like any skill you wish to master, it can be learned and practiced. It does not happen automatically, but takes intention followed by effort and diligence.
Research shows that connecting across all our relationships lowers stress, makes us healthier and we live longer.
I would challenge you to begin to notice the ways that you bid for connection in your everyday life. It can be as simple as saying Good Morning and making eye contact with someone at the gas station, or as deep as asking your partner about their day and putting away your cell phone for the answer.
I'm going to start paying attention to this and practicing my responses. I hope you will too.
Stay tuned...I may be back to share more of what I've learned as I continue through the book, and as always I look forward to your feedback!