YOU WANT better relationships with people.
Excellent. Relationships can be a great source of enjoyment.
But they can also be a great source of confusion and frustration
too, if you dont know some very important fundamentals.
If you want to know how to connect with people, learn the fundamentals
Were going to look at the basic components
of connection. When two people interact, what is the interaction
made of? Strip the conversation of its content, and what are
the fundamental elements? What are the building blocks of connection?
John Gottman, one of the most influencial
researchers into marital relationships uses what he calls the
love lab to study couples. The lab is an apartment fixed
with two-way mirrors and cameras, where married couples come
and spend the weekend while being filmed and observed, and then
these films are analyzed carefully. After 25 years of this kind
of painstaking analysis of hundreds of thousands of personal
interactions, Gottman discovered an elemental core of connection.
Its something he calls the bid.
In an interaction, one person makes
a bid for connection. The other person responds to that
bid in one of three ways: Turning toward, turning against, or
These are the fundamental components of
connection between anyone. This is what connection
is made of: The bid, and the response to the bid.
This understanding removes the complication
and confusion from relationships. Each subject and interaction
may be different, but underneath it all are these basic components.
People are bidding and responding to bids
all the time. But without seeing what is happening, the responses
to bids can shut down any further bidding. And the bids people
make to others can be made in a way that doesnt encourage
good responses to the bids. Fully understanding the concept of
the bid can greatly improve your capacity to connect
So what is a bid? It can be
Can you tell me what time it is?
Hey, Joe, hows it going?
You look great in that color!
Are you hungry? Do you want to get a pizza?
What are you doing tomorrow?
I just saw a great movie called Date Night. Have you seen
And the response to a bid can be turning
away, turning against, or turning toward. The responses of turning
away and turning against tend to discourage further bidding.
For example, you say, You look great in that color!
The other person could turn away by completely ignoring your
statement as if she didnt hear it, or responding with something
like, Do you know what time it is? Or the person
could turn against it by saying, I hate this color,
or What do you know about color matching?
Or the person could turn toward
your bid by saying, Thank you! or Oh Im
so glad you said that; I dont usually wear this color but
I really liked the dress.
Every interaction we have with someone
else is a bid and one of those three responses to bids. Thats
all there is. These simple building blocks are the foundation
of all relationships.
You want to know how to connect with people.
Heres how: Respond to others bids by turning
toward those bids. And learn to be good at making bids
Okay, what makes a good bid? The most important
element in making bids is to understand that the point of all
the bidding and responding is to give and receive emotional
information. This is so important, let me say it another
way just to be crystal clear: To connect with people, the important
thing is to transmit and receive emotional information.
So a bid would invite the other person to give you some emotional
information. Volunteering some emotional information about yourself
is also a good way to bid.
Not all bids or responses might seem like
emotional information. If I ask you what time it is and you respond
12:30, it may not seem to deliver any emotional information.
However, the way I ask and the way you respond
can indeed give each of us emotional information about each other.
I can ask you what time it is in a commanding way, in a friendly
way, and many others. You can respond to me in many ways too,
while having the same informational response.
The important principle is that you begin
to see your interactions with others as bids and responses to
bids. This will give you a whole new way to view whats
happening and it will make it easier for you to connect with
Notice the way you bid, and notice the
responses you get, and you will naturally get better at connecting.
Dont focus on whats complicated
about it. You are a human being, a social animal, and your brain
is exquisitely engineered to learn social information, and it
will learn all by itself. All you need to focus on is making
good bids, and responding to others bids by turning toward
them. This is how to connect with people.
A good book about "bids" as a
fundamental element of connecting is The Relationship Cure by John Gottman.
Learn about the special circumstance of
listening to someone when the person is upset by something and
needs someone to talk to: A