How to set context to create space for real connection

Last week I facilitated a beautiful Art of Connection weekend and one of the things that came up strongly, and that I love working with, is: setting a clear context.

A clear context is an important part of what makes Circling into such a powerful relational practice, and it also is a powerful practice in day-to-day life.

Creating a shared reality about what we are doing right now offers depth, intentionality and most of the time a much stronger sense of connection.

It might seem like a small thing, but when it is not done, you will notice. It makes the crucial difference between a focused space, and a space without a shared understanding about what is happening or what is agreed upon.

You know those moments where you run into your home, or your office and you launch into that story you just have to share? Sometimes your partner or colleague might be totally available to listen to you. And sometimes you see that person’s eyes glaze over, and he/she is just not in the space to pay full attention to you.

That might ache a bit, because there is a reason you want to share: something is important to you. Or if it is the other way around; you might feel a bit bummed, because you can tell something is important for the other person, but it is just not a good time.

In those moments setting context can be a really useful skill, and a way to honour where you are both at, while also creating space for the possibility of deeper connection.

How does it work?

Setting context is just a fancy way of saying: ‘hey, let’s agree on spending some time doing x’.

This seemingly little thing is a powerful nugget: it creates an intentional space.

A space where everybody involved has a shared understanding of what is going to happen, and has agreed to it. And that sweet space often fosters a sense of deeper connection, as you are both in a place of attention, focus and availability for each other.

In my daily life I often apply this skill to create that focused space. People might not always be ready to hear what I would love to share at that moment. They might be busy, or distracted, or even not that interested.

When I value what I, or others, want to share, I want to create a space where it can be received.

So I have learned to ask questions, and set context. I might say: “I am really wanting to share something with you, and it looks like you busy, would you be open to hearing it and when would be a good time?” Or, if I am on the receiving end: “I can see what you are sharing is important to you, and I am needing to finish this up; can we talk about it at dinner?”

That way I both value my own, and other people’s time and space, and what I, or they, want to share. I create the space where I can be available, and they can be available: the ideal conditions for a deeper quality of connection.


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Coach, trainer & lover of all things human and relational. Supporting you in finding a deeper connection to yourself & others, so you can truly lead, wherever you are.

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