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Have you ever been moved to get in touch with someone you've lost touch with, but felt a tug of hesitation? This might be a childhood friend, classmate, former colleague or even a loved one. The problem is, neither of you has reached out for a long time so you're not sure what to say or how to say it. Perhaps this uncertainty led you to ultimately do nothing. Or perhaps you did reach out, but what you wrote felt forced or awkward and the response back was lukewarm or nonexistent. I recently stumbled onto an EZPZ way to reconnect with someone that is simple, authentic, and powerful.
"So how can I reconnect with someone I haven't talked to in a while?"
The key to reestablishing a connection with someone is triggering a shared experience.
Humans respond more to experiences than to facts. The facts are like a black & white record of only what happened, while experiences hold the color commentary/meaning. Contrast two descriptions of the same hot day, "Remember that day it was over 100 degrees and we were both severely dehydrated?" vs. "Remember that day it was so blisteringly hot we both almost fainted on several occasions?" So while you undoubtedly have a lot in common with this person (e.g., schools, work, social circles), it is the shared experiences that hold the meaning which will enable you to reconnect.
"So how can I trigger shared experience?"
The best way to trigger a shared experience is through the senses.
Senses are powerful vehicles for recalling experiences. Apparently smell is the most powerful in this respect, but really all the senses can help bring you back to a former time and place. I always used to forget one in elementary school, but here they are: taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing. Describing a shared experience in terms of what one was sensing at the time results in a more vivid and potent recollection.
Below is a slightly modified version of my exchange with a former colleague that led me to stumble onto this. My interaction was over email, but the same principle applies over a letter, phone or video call, or in person. I've called out each (sense) in parentheses. Also, I've included some pictures to illustrate what experience might be triggered, but these pictures were not included in the email I sent.
My email to a former colleague:
Just the other day I was talking to some colleagues about empanadas and it brought me back to Buenos Aires (vision, sounds) and those amazing empanadas (taste, vision and smell, maybe touch) you introduced us to over there. Mr. Greenspots (vision) has had some limited travel since then, to Orlando for our annual vacation and to Zurich for a data protection review. Was a bit disappointed by the food until I found this amazing sausage place right near the hotel.
How have you and the team been doing? Hope your holidays are going well so far.
Talk to you later.
Now the reply I received:
What a nice surprise. You just brought back some cool memories. Everyone at the office is fine and doing well. I’ve had just a bit of travel this year, and after this last trip to London this week I should be done for the year.
I hope you and your family have a healthy and happy holiday season.
Talk to you soon.
Putting it all together...
The key to reestablishing a connection with someone is triggering a shared experience through the senses.
So the next time you have the opportunity to reconnect with someone, think about the sights, sounds, sensations, aromas and flavors (good and bad) that you shared together and communicate these using words that revive them. It will help you reconnect, rekindle the relationship and maybe even lead to a few laughs along the way!
If you try this would love to hear how it went!
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