I've been thinking about "bids for connection" lately - mostly in the context of marriage but now I'm thinking about my neighbours. I read some of Gottman's work on researching how couples make many minute bids for connection with each other every day. Gottman was surprised how minor these bids were: a glance, a gesture, a touch, a voice inflection. The results showed that there are three ways to respond:
And which response do you think was the most harmful to relationships? The NEUTRAL response! Yep, it is worse to not respond to that glance from your spouse than to respond negatively.
So what do bids for connections look like between neighbours? I guess it would be the neighbour who hollered hello to me as I was hanging up the laundry. He was in his neighbour's backyard and I was in mine and he could easily have not acknowledged me - but he did. I think a lackluster "hello" back would have been ALMOST a neutral response. I said hello and then invited him to come say hi to our grazing hens. He came over and ended up telling me about the farm he grew up on and the organic farm his family likes to visit. Or is that the fear? Maybe you don't want to make abid because if you say hello "too friendly" then the neighbour will come over and won't stop talking and won't go home!?
I'll give one other example of bids I see neighbours making and then ask you to give other examples. Sharing food is an obvious one. And a pretty big connection. I guess I'm more interested in the subtle ones like the neighbour who saw me in the neighbourhood grocer and asked me what I'm making for supper instead of just saying hi and walking past.
What other subtle ways do we make bids for connections in our communities?