Modern technology has become a huge part of our lives and even though we have advanced ways of connecting to one another electronically – such as via our smart phones or on our computers – these amazing tools are causing a strain to our relationships.
Parents may be deeply engrossed in a phone call while their kids run around unsupervised at the playground; family time equates to everyone sitting around in absolute silence while watching videos on their mobile device; sleep is affected as you lay in bed in the dark while scrolling through your social media newsfeed; meaningful conversations are replaced by text messages; social gatherings are invaded by endless snapshots of the food or selfies/ wefies.
If you find that your connection with your children, spouse, parents, siblings or friends is not as strong as it should be, perhaps it’s time to reconnect and rekindle your relationships?
Electronic vs real-life relationships
Alex Lickerman, M.D, Founder and CEO of a direct primary care medical practice in Chicago called ImagineMD, believes that the internet is an electronic drug that pulls us away from the physical world — and like any addiction, it eventually affects the number and quality of our relationships with others.
“The problem, however, comes when we find ourselves subtly substituting electronic relationships for physical ones or mistaking our electronic relationships for physical ones. We may feel we’re connecting effectively with others via the Internet, but too much electronic-relating paradoxically engenders a sense of social isolation“, he says.
Although the power of the internet has allowed us to easily reach out to friends and family, it should not replace our social and physical interactions in real life.
The difference between connecting with someone online and in person, is eye contact.
According to Carol Kinsey Goman, an international keynote speaker and Founder of Kinsey Consulting Services, the right amount of eye contact will help produce a feeling of mutual likeability and trustworthiness — and eye contact can also produce a powerful, subconscious sense of connection.
“We increase eye contact when dealing with people we like, admire, or who have power over us. In more intense or intimate conversations we naturally look at each another more often and hold that gaze for longer periods of time. In fact, we judge relationships by the amount of eye contact exchanged: the greater the eye contact, the closer the relationship”, she says.
Rekindle your relationships in 4 minutes
In the same amount of time that it takes for the next bus to arrive, or for your food to be served at a restaurant, or some commercial breaks on TV, you can reconnect with a loved one simply by staring into their eyes for just 4 minutes.
This interesting social experiment was first created around 20 years ago by Arthur Aron, a psychologist from New York, who succeeded in making two strangers fall in love and get married.
If you are ready to improve your relationship with your family member even a friend, here are some tips on how to get started:
Turn off all mobile devices
Either put your mobile devices on silent mode and leave them in the other room, or just turn them off and place them far away from you before you begin this experiment.
Choose a quiet setting away from all the hustle and bustle, preferably somewhere you won’t be interrupted or get distracted by anything.
You can either stand or sit and face each other, whichever is more comfortable for the both of you and makes you feel relaxed.
Take a deep breath and relax your body, avoid tensing up and try not to fidget around too much.
Maintain eye contact
As awkward as it may feel at first, try not to break eye contact with the other person and just continue to gaze directly into their eyes for the full duration of the experiment.
It’s ok to smile — this might help you to relax and this will probably encourage the other party to smile right back at you — just try not to laugh uncontrollably as it might break your concentration.
Look at the other person’s facial expressions and notice whether they appear to be sad, happy, or any other emotion? What else do you notice about their face? Smile lines, freckles, moles, the shape of their eyes, etc — really observe everything about their face and what makes them similar or different from you.
Think and reflect
Think about all the times you have shared together, the things you both have gone through, the fun moments as well as the sad ones, what they have done for you, how they make you feel, and any other significant events in your lives.
Communicate with your eyes
Try to convey your emotions to the other person by using only your eyes — it can be an apology for something you have done to hurt them, or a message to say how much you love them — just do it from your heart and see if they can decipher what you’re sending out.
If at any point you have this strong urge to reach out and give them a gentle touch, or even a warm hug, just follow your instinct and just do it — chances are that they will be pleasantly surprised by this physical sign of affection.
Talk about your experience
Once the 4 minutes are up, you can discuss what each of you felt during this experiment, what you were thinking about, and just open up to one another and talk about your experience.
Watch the 4 minute social experiment
Prudential Singapore conducted a social experiment to see if simply looking at a loved one for four quiet, uninterrupted minutes could create a sense of closeness and empathy.
Watch the video below to see how some Singaporeans reacted when they tried this moving and inspirational experience:
Other ways to connect with your loved ones
Unplug from the online world and connect with your family and friends in real life by doing these simple activities together to strengthen your bond:
- Have a meal together at least once a day
- Sit down and hold a proper conversation face-to-face
- Have a picnic outdoors
- Go shopping together
- Cycle through the park
- Try out each other’s hobbies
- Cook or bake together
- Read a storybook at bedtime to your kids
- Go on a holiday
- Try outdoor camping overnight somewhere together
- Plan things together
- Create family traditions
- Keep scrapbooks and photo albums
- Build and maintain a family garden together
- Volunteer with your friends
- Have chilled movie nights
- Hold fun game nights
- Explore hidden gems around Singapore together
Rekindle your relationships today
Philip Seah, CEO of Prudential Singapore, explains that the campaign, #RelationshipReconnect is essentially a starter kit to help people strengthen their relationships by reconnecting, once again.
“You would be surprised how impactful just four minutes can be. In today’s world, busyness has become a badge of honour. With all the distractions around us, we barely take time to acknowledge each other. Our experiment is one way to encourage people to take time out, only a few minutes of their day, to reconnect with people who matter the most to them. When you concentrate on being present with someone, and with the right intent, it can make a world of difference”, he says.
As a life insurance company that deeply understands the value of relationships, Prudential is using its #RelationshipReconnect campaign to remind the community of the importance of their relationships.
Your relationships are precious — protect them. Are you going to try the 4 minute Relationship Reconnect? How will you reconnect with the ones you care about and rekindle your relationships? Tell us by leaving a comment below and remember to include #RelationshipReconnect