Emotional Connection Weaves Us Together
© The Aspen Institute: Graphic by Greg Gersch Graphic notetaking for the second day of Aspen’s #WeaveThePeople gathering in Washington, DC on May 14-16, 2019
It’s no secret that Dr. Martha Welch is passionate about the power of emotional connection to improve our lifelong health and development – socially, emotionally, mentally, and physically. In May, she was pleased to meet with a group of individuals from across the country who live out connection every day. They came together in Washington, DC for #WeaveThePeople.
#WeaveThePeople is a gathering born out of the Aspen Institute’s Weave: The Social Fabric Project, led by New York Times columnist and author David Brooks. This project addresses cultural changes over the last sixty years that have left Americans divided, isolated and unhappy. The three-day gathering brought together some 275 people from different walks of life around the nation who are purposefully weaving deep connections in their communities.
The Science of Relationships
Dr. Welch was given the privilege of kicking off day two of the conference, providing a foundation for the day’s discussions by explaining the science of relationships. She explained how emotional connection, which is rooted in our biology, can be the “antidote to the rips in the fabric of our society.”
“The weavers here know how to do this connecting,” Dr. Welch said to the gathering. “But you do it through relating. Not through thinking.”
She encouraged them to pay attention to key elements of emotional connection as they interacted with each other throughout the day.
- Warmth in interactions – how connection is repaired
- Body language – how people are drawn to one another
- Tone of voice – the power of vocal communication
- Eye contact – the power of facial communication
- Give and take – how reciprocity occurs in each interaction
A New Theory of Change
David Brooks reflected on #WeaveThePeople in his column “The Big Story You Don’t Read About”. He says, “My colleague David Bornstein points out that a lot of American journalism is based on a mistaken theory of change. That theory is: The world will get better when we show where things have gone wrong.” Brooks agrees the focus can’t just be about what’s wrong, but rather what we can do collaboratively to prompt change. He observes that “The weavers know how to open relationships with vulnerability and they know how to build connections and move to action. Their defining feature is that they are geniuses at relationship.”
It’s relationship and connection that lead to social change, and the Weave conference was a step in that direction.
Dr. Welch couldn’t agree more and stresses that the time is ripe for doing so.
“While I have been doing this work, the situation has become more and more urgent,” Dr. Welch says. “Now is the time to rescue the next generation.”