The Balance Code

How to Create Real Connection in a Digital World with Stephanie Ward

November 08, 2023 Katie Rössler Season 2 Episode 1
The Balance Code
How to Create Real Connection in a Digital World with Stephanie Ward
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever feel lost in the digital age, craving for real, authentic connections? This episode promises to guide you back to the essence of human interaction, even in our screen-addicted culture. Joined by Business and Marketing Mentor Stephanie Ward, we delve into the essentials of forging genuine relationships in our increasingly digitized world.

We begin by exploring the power of gratitude, appreciation, and the art of listening. Stephanie shares how the simple act of showing care and attention can reignite authentic connections that seem to have been lost in the sea of digital communication. Then, we tackle the concept of maintaining these real connections in a realm that’s often devoid of physical presence. Stephanie emphasises on the importance of understanding boundaries, respecting energy levels, and capitalizing on multiple channels of communication.

Finally, we venture into a candid discussion about navigating cultural differences while maintaining authenticity. Stephanie offers invaluable insights about listening more, talking less, and the importance of being yourself - unfiltered and unafraid. Above all, she encourages us to stay open to being wrong, humble, and endlessly curious. Ready to turn your digital world into a tool for growth and self-expression? Join us for an engaging and thought-provoking episode that's sure to leave you inspired.

Connect with Stephanie here:
Instagram
YouTube
LinkedIn
Facebook
Free Special Report, 7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time 

Learn More About The Stress Less Space

Get a free Uncover Your Blocks Strategy Session with Katie

Follow The Balance Code Podcast on Instagram

Follow Katie Rössler on Instagram

Check out the podcast website

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Balance Code Podcast, a place where you have permission to step outside the hamster wheel of day-to-day life and learn tools to create more balance. My name is Katie Russell. I'm a licensed therapist and burnout and hidden grief specialist. I support ambitious, goal-driven people who are ready to get off the one-way train, to burnout and start to enjoy life again to the fullest. Oh and, by the way, I'm a mom of three, an ex-pat living in Germany who's still learning the language, and an entrepreneur Living my Balance Code is what keeps me able to work in incredible ways without burning out. So let's find your Balance Code. Welcome back to the podcast. Today I'm interviewing Stephanie Ward to talk about how to create real connection in the digital world we're living in Now. Stephanie is a business and marketing mentor for business owners who want?

Speaker 1:

to transform their work for more ease, fulfillment and profit. She started Firefly Coaching in 2002 and serves clients all over the world.

Speaker 1:

She's an American living in the Netherlands since 1999 and has an undergraduate degree in business management and a master's degree in communication, both from the University of Oklahoma. As I shared today's episode, stephanie came into my life as I was seeking a business mentor. Her ability to make you feel like you're the only person in the room and you're still online, as well as the fact that she really impacted me by handwriting a letter and sending it to me after our call and I thought who does that anymore? It was amazing. I knew she was the perfect person to talk to about today's topic how to really create real connection when we're all stuck, kind of, in the online space.

Speaker 1:

Now, if you're not a business owner, don't worry, we don't talk about that all the time. We talk about the workplace, we talk about our personal lives. We talk about relationships online through social media, so I know that you will get something out of today's episode. Well, let's dive in. Welcome, stephanie, to the Balance Code podcast. I'm excited to have you on here and talking about real connection in what has become a very digital world. Even when we're really next to each other, we're like a lot on our phones and like it just feels like things are starting to shift.

Speaker 1:

So tell us a little bit about yourself, stephanie, and we're going to dive into this our own experiences, our professional experiences on how to start developing real connection again. So I think we've lost some skill sets.

Speaker 2:

I agree and thank you for having me. I'm super happy to be here as well. So I'm a marketing and business mentor, helping small business owners connect with clients in a way that doesn't feel creepy or weird. So this is exactly what I'm talking about all the time making authentic connections as a human and not as a non-human. That's what I do, and from day one, since 2002, when I started my business, I have been an advocate of building relationships and having authentic connections. So this is just totally my wheelhouse and I'm super excited to dive in.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I knew when I wanted to talk about this that I wanted you on the podcast because when we met years ago we were talking about the potential of me working with you as a business coach and though we didn't end up moving forward, you hand wrote me a letter, put it in the mail, pulled it out, didn't have like glitter in it. I remember it having glitter come out. It was just like magical and I thought this is amazing, Like you don't get handwritten letters much anymore, and especially from someone that you just had kind of like an interview with and I was so grateful for that. That stayed with me.

Speaker 2:

We don't have that even with our friends anymore, sometimes right Like that piece of real connection and that was handwritten connection is going.

Speaker 1:

So now you live in the Netherlands, correct? Correct? So now that I'm in Germany, what are you noticing where you live and just in your network, how people started to pull away from really connecting.

Speaker 2:

I think there's a lot of different reasons. Things going on the digital world everything's online, can connect so easily. We're just addicted to our phones. It's one of those things it's so easy to get distracted and forget what's important. You can bring that back with some simple rules. But what's causing it? What's the underlying thing?

Speaker 2:

I mean there's epidemic of loneliness worldwide also in the US, in Europe, everywhere. People are more alone than ever, although we're more connected than ever. It's a bit of a paradox, but I think it's really about making a decision to give your care and your attention to someone, and it's somehow I don't know, it's just gotten lost. So if you make a conscious choice to do that I mean, which is our most precious asset time and our attention and when you share that with someone, it can make such a difference. And it really doesn't take that long and it's so easy just to say thank you. You don't have to send a note in the mail, although I love doing it and I encourage people to do that. You can also send a voice text. You can send a written text I mean an email also works Anything to express your gratitude and appreciation of someone else if they've helped you or if they've supported you or if you just think they're awesome. You just want to tell them that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think we all are lacking that encouragement in our lives. We don't really feel like we have a lot of cheerleaders in our court and because we weren't really probably raised to be our own cheerleaders right, Then it's that feeling of like I feel quite isolated and alone. So I love what you're saying, like, say when you're grateful for someone, like put it out there, say when you're thankful, it can be small things, it can be big things. One of the pieces that I've really noticed from my clients and my friendship circle and I fall victim to this too we stop listening.

Speaker 1:

It is very easy when you're on the phone to somebody to also do five other things at the same time. You can just put in your little AirPods or a headpiece in and you're just like off doing other things while listening and we don't give our time and attention, Like maybe we used to when we'd sit down at a coffee shop with a friend and go, let's just talk about life, let's talk about all these things. So what are you noticing about just communication skills in general? Are people comfortable listening to each other? Like, what do you think is going on? Because, since this is your wheelhouse, I'd love to hear.

Speaker 2:

Well, I think it's what you said. We're all so desperate and interested in receiving affirmation and support, and so we're thirsty although this is a Sarah quote of standing knee-deep in a river and dying of thirst. You're surrounded. It's right here. And one thing that many people have said is when you're in need of something, sometimes the best thing you can do is to give that very thing. So if you're feeling lonely or disconnected, then reach out to someone and be that one that says something to someone else, and it has to start somewhere. So I always say give first, give and forget. Don't keep a record, don't keep a track of the things that you're. I called her. Why she hasn't called me? Just give from a place of love and support, because that will also nurture you in the end. That's not why you're doing it right. You don't Right. It's not keeping score. But when you are helpful and caring and giving your attention and listening to someone, it does give you a good feeling as well, because we all that's a human need want to be heard and acknowledged and validated.

Speaker 2:

If you're face to face with someone, it's hard to look at your phone right or do something that's distracting. You can ask someone. I need your 100%, full attention from you right now. Could you just sit down and look out the window and not do anything else and just hear me for a minute and also asking people and I'm guilty of this, I know, because I'm huge, I think I have resources, solutions, I'm a huge fixer Like you. Tell me what's wrong. I've got 100 solutions for you. But to ask people if they need just to be heard do you just need an ear or do you want a solution or do you want to bring from ideas? So give them the choice to say no, I just can you just listen for a minute? I just need to let this out and then you just sit quietly and say I hear you. Oh, that does sound difficult. Wow, I can imagine it's hard. And if they say no, I really would love some ideas. Then you do that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I have a couple of friends that are in my close circle and they're the best at modeling the question like, well, how do you need support right now? Or what type of support do you need? Because I might go my whole day and they're very quick before they go into advice giving or fix it, or, you know, let me explode with my own stuff. They're like what is it you need right now?

Speaker 2:

And that's a powerful question, because you're like wait, hold on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah just need to venture. Do I need, you know, that support? So what I'm hearing you saying is we also find that we need to model it for others, even with the sense of like, hey, I need this in my life. Let me model this again. Yes, I can attract it back to myself. That can be really challenging, because you said it like so it's got to start somewhere. Why not with you? But in that moment you're like, why can't they just do it for me?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I hundred percent. And this this is a connected issue, I think is that we all need To be willing to ask for what we need. Yeah, ask for what you need, ask the question. Don't think people can read your mind. They can't and they don't and they're not. Just give that up, it won't happen.

Speaker 2:

Advocating for yourself and asking for what you need doesn't mean you're always gonna get it, but you're sure as heck not gonna get it if you don't ask and you're not aware of yourself, of what you need. So that has to do with learning to understand who you are and Then getting the courage build it. It's just a skill, like any muscle, like any other. The more you do it, the easier it gets. The same with boundaries and saying no.

Speaker 2:

You know if you are used to asking for what you want and you're well aware that the answer could be yes, no or maybe, and you're fine with all of the answers, right? So if someone says no, they say thank you, for you know considering it and you move on. There's so much in there, but it's it's. It all comes back to you. It all starts with you anyway. It starts and ends with you. So the more you can be aware of what you want and then practice asking for it. You know, start with people that are safe, that you know that you really love, that can maybe be more gentle, but you'll get so good at it. It's someone just says no Period, which is a sentence and a full answer.

Speaker 1:

You'll say okay, yeah, definitely. I'm noticing the trend with social media over the last 10 years. We're so easily able to share everything, put it all out there, and we forget that there are human beings reading it and so often when we get on the phone or in person with a friend, we immediately go into blah let me share all my stuff. And we don't go, hey, do you have a moment? Or like I've got, I got some heavy stuff, can I talk with you? Because we're just used to that instant gratification of I can share it anytime, anywhere, how I want. Yeah, that piece. I think of real connection, respecting boundaries. You just did the boundaries piece and that made me think of like huh, it's a two-way street, right. Like, hey, how can I support you? But also I have some stuff I need to share. You, do you have the time right?

Speaker 2:

like.

Speaker 1:

Stephanie, are you? Like if you're like I'm gonna get off this call and I'm gonna be well, then maybe I'm not gonna dump my stuff on you Before your call and go talk tonight 100%.

Speaker 2:

And it's not even just the time, because there's also the capacity and energy, like what if my aunt just died or what you know, what if my husband just lost his job? Like it's time and energy, these are all things that are Connected and asking permission and saying, is this a good time for you? And and then hearing the answer and it's quite helpful to understand then it makes you realize, hey, yeah, other people are going through that stuff too, and I, you know, I bet there's someone else that you could talk to you about it, you know, then then you can move on and ask someone else. And that's part of building a community and nurturing your friendships and deepening Relationships, which is not only showing up when there's a problem, be there for the good times, but also be there for them.

Speaker 2:

It's relationships are built over time and they can't happen overnight and they require time, intention and energy, so that even Someone that you're not in touch with a lot Maybe once a year even but you've built something up over years. If you called them and said I need you to be at my front door in 30 minutes and be like, okay, you know, like they're not gonna ask because they know you would never ask that if you didn't need. You know 1 million percent need it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely. So let's now go into the fact that a lot of us have coworkers we've never met because it's all on Zoom and things are so international now. Or, like you and I, we have clients we've actually never met in person. How can we start to develop a real connection when we're not even able to like see each other face to face? You know, it's basically just the screen in front of us all the time.

Speaker 2:

I think for me it helps to have different channels and modalities. So this is like the closest you're going to get with a video and audio with someone and there's just voice only. You can send video messages that are recorded and so it's not in real time, it's asynchronous. You can do texts, like you already mentioned, sending something, a note in the mail, sending gifts in the mail, like things that you can do to mix it up, because that's kind of what happens in real life. Right, you were in different situations. We meet in a cafe, we meet in the office, we meet at an event. So there's different feelings, different experiences. Some are longer, some are shorter.

Speaker 2:

So Brené Brown talks about this building relationships. It's about building trust over time and it's all in these little moments it's not one huge thing where I'm like Katie, can you please do this enormous thing? I mean you did it and then it's like, okay, now I can trust her. It's all these little things where you know she's showing me along the way that I can trust her, and she's there and we show up for each other. So I think the channel and the method isn't as important as the consistency and maybe mixing it up a little bit, just to keep it fresh.

Speaker 1:

What I hear you saying is like, let the technology work for you. Yeah, you know, like if you can do, like if you've got Voxer and you can do a Vox and then you can do like a video little response to something, that's kind of fun. Like that shifts away, it changes up the communication. Now some of you are like, oh my God, if they all my employees are all like coworkers did, that would be too much. But maybe you have somebody on your team you're working with closely and you want to build that trust. You're right, it's things like that. We would have met in the break room for coffee and been like how was Saturday? How?

Speaker 2:

did that go Right.

Speaker 1:

We don't get those touch point moments anymore and we don't get those. You know times where, especially if they're like no screen on, it's just audio you don't get to look in their eyes and go. You look like you're going through something. How can I support?

Speaker 2:

you.

Speaker 1:

Or should I take some things off of your project load? What about this? We don't get that often, so I like the idea of make it work for you, make technology work for your connection with people.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and you can also do like a conscious check-in, like once a month or every two weeks, where at the beginning of any meeting you're like let's just go around and let's just share, like maybe a highlight and a low light or, you know, a medium light or whatever kind of light you want to share, just so that you stay connected with knowing you know that Suzanne's kid just left for college and Robert's wife just got her medical degree, you know, like whatever, so that we can cheer each other on and celebrate what's happening and support each other if it's a difficult time. And also, just since the world happens to be on fire right now, if you need to discuss that as well, like how that's affecting you personally or your community.

Speaker 1:

I love that you bring that up, because often we just go into the like okay, compartmentalize it, but it's always impacting us. You know, we're consuming information constantly because of this digital world and it's hard to just turn that off and to go like, okay, let's act like everything's fine and go into this 90 minute work meeting. It's like, hmm, I like you, so like, let's maybe have a time to just, you know, check in and then get to the workplace. I think that's really beneficial. What about cultural differences? With real connection? We get this experience right now, like what is the cultural differences that you noticed that maybe we should be a little more aware of? Or ask questions Like, yeah, from your own experience, in your own personal life.

Speaker 2:

Well, I've been fortunate to work with people from multiple, multiple, multiple cultures and countries and communities, and I am not an expert at all in every single culture at all. I have friends who are. I am not. I think this goes back to what we're talking about, for listening, you know. Talking less than you, listening more than you talk. Follow the person's lead, you know.

Speaker 2:

If you're not sure, if you meet someone from another culture and you're not sure how Things go, for example, the Dutch in general are very direct, right, they'll just tell you hey, your shirts rip, genshui, florida, some clothes. I mean, the first time I heard that I was like on the floor, like, did that person say? But that's Normally here. So you know, you may have some clues about the culture, but if you don't just follow their lead, mirror what they're sharing, if they share, you know about the weather or the food, follow that and see where it goes. You can always test things.

Speaker 2:

If you ask a question and it seems like they're taking it back, you can say, oh, I'm sorry, that might have come out too harsh or I'm just. You know, I'm from this culture in this culture and we talk like that here. So I apologize, let's change the subject or something. So you know, if you do go into a you know swerve off the road, don't cover it up and try to act like nothing happened. Just say oh, I feel like I've just kind of messed things up here or it feels kind of weird, sorry, let's get back on track. So Do your best, listen more, ask questions and if it goes wrong just apologize. In that moment Don't try to sweep it under the rug.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely stay curious, right and be willing to be wrong, like, oh, I thought you guys were okay with this. No, no, okay. Yeah, I think often we we don't like being wrong anymore. We don't like getting it wrong or embarrassment. That's really what it is right. We don't like to be embarrassed and it's like it's okay. It's okay, we all we all wave to that person and realize it's not somebody we actually know. Yes, and then tripped.

Speaker 2:

And then, like We've all been, there and it's gonna continue to happen, like we're going to be wrong. We're humans, it's gonna happen a lot. And so embracing that and knowing that and saying I'm really trying here, I just totally screwed that up and I'm sorry, and saying I don't know is also 100% Like I have no idea. Let me come back to you on that. No idea whatsoever, that's. That's a perfect I don't know. There's someone tell me I don't know, then Make something up or or fake it like I mean, there's so much we don't know. Then, in fact, the more you know, the more you realize you don't know anything. So it's just like coming from a place of curiosity and humility and and willingness to learn and to be wrong and to apologize if you are. I.

Speaker 1:

Think sometimes, when we are in meetings or meetings on screen, like hey, let's meet up. We live in two different countries. There's something about the screen in the camera that makes us sort of shift how we are or what we are, because we're consuming content all the time from people whether via Podcast or a vlogger or things like that where we see them a certain way. We feel like, okay, this is how you're supposed to be on camera. So sometimes the real connection is just being yourself fully in those moments too, and it can be hard to turn that off.

Speaker 1:

It's like going to work, you know, like when you go into the office You're not like in your pajamas and stuff. So I get it very easy for us to shift those things. But how can you still bring your real, vulnerable and authentic self, of course with boundaries, if you're in the workplace, you're not like everybody.

Speaker 1:

Everything that does happen, especially in America, but like you try to have those boundaries around all your personal life, but also to just as you've mentioned, just you know share a bit about yourself, share when you're curiously wanting to know something, apologize if you feel like you've offended someone. All of this is what we would have done in real life, and I think the more that we this is the digital world evolves. You know sorts of, I'm sure, holograms and all these things that are gonna evolve to things that can be in the home very easily it's even more important for us to teach Ourselves but every generation set that's coming how to have real connection how.

Speaker 1:

How to ask questions and not think of your next answer. You know Like, oh, I'm asking you this, so then I can. Then you know how to be present, and I I Find Stephanie often that's because we're not comfortable being present in our own personal lives.

Speaker 2:

I think you're 100% right about that. It's it does. Again, this is leading back to what we said before it. It starts with you, like if you can't sit quietly by yourself and Be in that moment and you know the present moment the power of now. Eckhart Tolle's book is one of the three of the holy Trinity books in my life. The other two are Loving what is by Byron Katie and the four agreements by Miguel Ruez. But the power of now, that's it. Like, literally, life only happens right now.

Speaker 2:

I, yes, you think you have a memory of a past and you're worried about these things are gonna happen in the future, but really so if you're only ever in the past or only ever in the future, you're totally missing your whole entire life. Yeah, like my whole life right now is you. That's it. It's the two of us sitting here. There is nothing else going on. Like this is the moment, and if I'm thinking about I have to get groceries later, or I speak of the kids, all these things and I don't have kids, by the way but then it's, you're missing it, you're missing it. So what you're talking about? Presence, becoming more comfortable and joyful and accepting and embracing and Staying in the presence. It has a world of benefits, including that usually in the present there's not so much terrible going wrong. It's the past that's traumatizing us, or this future idea of what's gonna happen that's making us so stressed. So there's a lot more peace in the present as well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah no, I agree, one of the pieces to being present and that comfort is To understand all of you like again, the mistakes and the good and the bad. Bad in quotations, right, we can hold to talk about things this way. But, and online in the digital world, we can create a facade and we can pull away from who we really are. And as soon as someone really gets to Really connect with us, it can be uncomfortable because it's like, oh, I have to say that thing to your face. Oh, that's uncomfortable. So, getting comfortable with ourselves but then also really recognizing that it's healthy to have some filters around the things that we say to each other. It's healthy to have the filters around what we say to ourselves.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I would add one more thing too, and this is again up to everyone and how comfortable they feel and their own personal wishes and boundaries, but I keep. I'm on social media a lot and I'm visible and I'm a very private person. I Keep a lot of so because it's precious to me. These are things that I don't want to share with anyone and I'm not gonna share it with anyone and unless you know, you're in my intimate world, but so I don't put stuff out. So just my, my Suggestion is consider what you're sharing and consider if that's something maybe you want to keep for yourself and your Little group and for your or just for yourself. You don't have to share everything and and remember that those things belong to you and you're not required to share them with anybody.

Speaker 1:

I always laugh when I meet someone who's never like we've never met for the first time in person, it's always been digital and I like I feel like I know you and then I'll say something like I didn't know that you did that, or I didn't know that you, you know. And I'm like, yeah, I had one go.

Speaker 1:

I didn't know you had kids and I was like I talk about my kids a lot like, as the kids are right beside, right, right, so for them it's like whoa, this, this identity I've created to remember as well. In the digital world, you might feel like you have a real connection, but sometimes you don't really fully know that person. So this is, we're coming like full circle.

Speaker 2:

Now, how can you create real connection but also recognize that some of the real connection is based off our own mindset About the person and what we believe and perceive, and that's why we get curious and ask the questions Mm-hmm, yeah, I'll tell that real connection 100% and you know, if you ever have a question or you're wondering like, is this the right thing or is this the wrong thing, or what do I do here, just use the test of what I do this or say this to their face in person, sitting in the coffee shop yeah, you know, it's Somehow we've gotten so Used to like again, I like what you said and I do this as well. I let the technology work for you. Like don't let it work you, you work it. You know, make it be your tool to support you and Forget.

Speaker 2:

If you took away all the tools and you were just sitting with someone at a table With a cup of tea or coffee, what would you say or do? How would you act if someone told you something you know? So it's pretty easy just to you know. Come back to okay, what's the human response? What would a human do? And then also Keep in mind, not everything has to be public. Yeah, you can have a conversation. If you see something online that disturbs you or you want to inquire about or that you're not sure about you want clarification on, you can send a personal message. You don't have to Put it out there for everyone. You can see the private message saying hey, I saw that I was just wondering and then clarify privately. Not everything is needs to be a public conversation.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think we go to the example. No, you're not here to save the day, it's okay. Stephanie, it's been such a pleasure to have you and to have this conversation. If people want to connect with you and work with you, where can they find you? I've loved it too, thank you, katie.

Speaker 2:

They can find me at firefly coachingcom. That's my website and I have a free, searchable blog and a Free report that you can download there. I also I'm firefly coaching on most of the channels Instagram, love, linkedin. That's a huge sleeper. Get on that if you're not on it. A great channel and I'd love to connect.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely and truly. As I said, I mean Stephanie's authentic you will be all that matters in her world in that moment, and it just feels amazing. So, stephanie, thank you for touching my life and impacting me, and I'm so grateful for the, the real connection we get to have through that. Thank you, thank you very much. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. If you have a moment, please leave a rating or review so that others can find this podcast who are looking for support, just like you. Let's connect on Instagram at katie dot wrestler or at Balanced code podcast, or check down in the show notes to find ways that we can work together and see other offerings that I have for you at this time and, as always, here's to finding our balance code.

Creating Real Connection in Digital World
Real Connections in a Digital World
Navigating Cultural Differences and Authentic Connection
Impactful Coaching and Authentic Connections