Connecting is a difficult part of relocation.
Oddly enough, many of the connecting problems come from relocating, especially if you have moved, a lot.
My personal overview: 13 moves, 2 years as an EXPAT and 5 states. On average I have moved every 4 years of my life.
A Magical Season
I love all the new faces of every move.
For a few fleeting months, I get to be known. Being new attracts people to you. You get to tell your story and what is important to you. All while meeting new people and learning about the new community.
There are no expectations. No one actually knows each other and there is no judgement…just new on both sides.
Dale Carnegie and my father, the sales guy, taught me how to be new with simple strategies.
- Take an interest in people
- Be a good listener
- Use a person’s name
- And SMILE!
Though a bit kitschy today, these strategies were effective 1st steps in being new. In Part TWO of How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie outlines “6 Ways to make people like you”.
It was the smile that moved me through my most unsure times in being new. I found that a soft smile and a peaceful calm helped me to initially connect to most people.
At the same time it was this smile that ended up being misunderstood by those same people.
6 months were up
The ripples of my entrance faded around month 6.
Like throwing a stone into a stream, everyone around comes to see the splash…to see the new. But once the ripples have smoothed, everyone go back to their regular rhythm of life, of which I did not have leaving me isolated. Showing me I needed to adapt.
I knew how to be new, but WHAT came after that?
Needing to connect. But how?
Through Sandy Sheehy’s book “Connecting ~ the enduring power of female friendships”, I began to understand that I only knew two things.
ONE – I had a great relationship with my core family.
TWO – I could not easily connect beyond the acquaintance level with anyone else.
In my core family, I lived in the last 3 stages.
No wonder people were confounded by my actions.
I treated everyone like my family.
Poor Expectations ~ Oh Crud!
Sandy Sheehy explained that each stage has expectations built in. These are general expected behaviors for each stage and are adhered to by everyone established in a community.
Finally I knew. I was expecting more from people than they were willing to give. In additional, I was giving more than made them comfortable. No wonder I couldn’t connect. These “other” stages were never modeled within my family. Therefore, I could not and did not adapt appropriately to the people around me.
The Silent Language
No one ever talks about the rules they are using. It is just something everyone understands and uses.
In Edward T. Hall’s book, “The Silent Language” he talks about how a culture works as a single organism. There is a system full of unspoken rules and understandings that outsiders cannot understand until they experience it for themselves.
Moving on average every 4 years, never allowed me to learn what was going on, let alone practice it. And trying to give and expect unreasonable “late friendship stage” expectations set me up for failure.
Stages plus Bridges
Bridges between Stages
The third significant concept I learned from Sandy Sheehy’s “Connections” was that there is always a bridge between each stage. These stages are linear and to get from one to the other required crossing that bridge.
“Bridges” typically involved the unknown, a conflict or a difficult season for one or both of the friends.
Conflict? Let’s Move on
Interpersonal Conflict was a problem for me. My family had limited conflict. There was no training ground for traversing this.
Conflict in my world equaled the end of a relationship. Between what junior high and high school taught me and the fact that I literally walked away from people in a move, conflict meant it was time to move on.
Seeing the Bridge
Once I knew there was a bridge I saw it and the place to land on the other side.
The path was not truly clear. Each crossing still has a huge unknown element. But NOW, I know the bridge is there. I know there is “something”, a potential future on the other side.
Knowing it will take work, whether conflict or patience or tenacity, is no longer a stop point for me. These things are required resolve the issue and help gain agreement in the process of traversing the bridge.
Connections and More….
In all seasons of life, lack of structure or details slows us down.
By establishing effective local connections early, we will find the information we need, understand the structure and set up our way of life more quickly.
- Identifying Stages
- Setting Realistic Expectations
- See the Bridges and the destination on the other side
Knowing this, will make relocation easier.
Annette Walters ~ a new empty nester with a passion for encouraging other ReloMoms. She is currently living in Texas while searching out her next
Upcoming blog: How to make friends when you know it will end.