We have built ourselves a lonely world but there are ways to forge the genuine human connections that we all need to flourish.

We often hear the saying, “It’s lonely at the top”, but the truth is that it could be lonely in most places we work.

Over the years, we have fallen guilty of a tendency to actively not engage with those around us for various reasons, while not ignoring them entirely.

The price of this unwritten social contract of non-engagement is loneliness.

Loneliness was already prevalent prior to social distancing and enforced lockdowns, but it has never been addressed as a matter needing attention.

What we yearn for is the opposite of loneliness: genuine connection.

The good news is that there are ways to build genuine connection.

One way to do so is just by having better conversations.

It means allowing ourselves to lower the mask a little at a time around friends, acknowledging some of our vulnerabilities, helping them to feel comfortable doing the same, and engaging in safe and appropriate levels of touch.

It means asking questions about more than just what they did on the weekend or which footy team won or lost. It means asking how they felt about it, what they hope for, what they regret or what they learnt. And it means shutting up and really listening to them, withholding judgement and validating how they feel.

You might be surprised at how quickly a good conversation can build a connection that is meaningful and lasting – removing that sense of loneliness.