To build connection, you first need to pay attention

The other day, in a workshop, in response to a couple’s query on ‘loss of connect’, I said… “Start looking into each other’s eyes more often. Remember, you didn’t look into each other’s eyes because you were in love. You were in love because you used to look into each other’s eyes”, and then I culminated with a caveat “Look, don’t stare”J. Though it was said in a lighthearted manner, the logic has its science intact.

Well, we all know ‘man is a social animal’. And basis of our social being is ‘interpersonal communication’. One look at our evolution and it becomes evident that we are wired to connect, as there is no other way we would have survived all that we did. But are we connecting anymore? Look around and you would find that if not annihilated, the very basis of our social being is surely under serious threat.

At home, parents are busy staring at their smart-phones or TV screen, and kids are busy with their videogames or are tuned into a song in the I-pod. At workplace, bosses are busy looking at laptops and employees are logged into company-intranet. In institutes, teachers are looking at their PowerPoint Presentations rather than at students. In offices, Customer Care Executives are busy checking out customer records in CRM software rather than relating to the very same persons standing in front of them.

Alas, we are looking less at people, listening to them less, being less mentally-present in conversations and are paying less attention to people’s reactions. And with decreasing attention span and declining face-to-face contact, people are finding it hard to relate to each other, connect with each other and hold on to relationships. Before we move on, see this video to get the gist of what we are saying, why it is important, and how it is relevant at home and at workplace…



Yes, there is a neuroscience to this advice of ‘paying attention’. If we look at our brain, it has special neurons called ‘mirror neurons’. And what makes them special is that these mirror neurons get activated not only when you do a certain action, but also when you see someone else doing the same intentional action. So, in a way, these mirror neurons set the foundation for human empathy and sensitivity.

Only because of these neurons, whenever we see a kid who is scared, we feel the fear he is feeling, and then hold him at his shoulder to calm him down. However, these mirror neurons can only come into use when you will look at someone – when you will pay attention.

The roots of all these concepts are in the ‘neuroscience of human behavior’. When the detailed knowledge of ‘structure and functioning of human brain’ is combined with behavioral concepts based in psychology, the resultant ‘social & emotional intelligence’ helps you excel in the key-aspects of personal and professional life. Yes, emotional & social intelligence is the science of managing self and connecting with others – a science that can be learnt, practiced and mastered.

However, it all begins with some important realizations like…‘To build connection, you first need to pay attention’.


Dr. Sandeep Atre

‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert

Founder – Socialigence

Note: Socialigence ( offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.