Create Extraordinary Interactions | Mavis Tsai | TEDxEverett

Create Extraordinary Interactions | Mavis Tsai | TEDxEverett

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Translator: Emanuele Rossi
Reviewer: ACBS Fan There’s something
that increases our risk of death more than excessive drinking, more than chronic exposure
to air pollution, more than obesity, something that increases our risk
of death as much as excessive smoking: social isolation, a sense
of disconnection, loneliness, according to an analysis of 148 studies
with over 300,000 people. I know this place of isolation deep inside me. It started in Hong Kong when I was
a preschooler about this high. Chinese girls are typically given flowery
names by their parents, like “Liang Hua,”
meaning “Lotus Blossom,” “Hsieng Yi,” “Friendship from the Heart.” My parents, being health professionals,
named me “Kang Cheng,” meaning “Healthy and Straight.” Well, I was scrawny, and I had poor posture. My classmates teased me mercilessly. I spent a lot of time alone. Being innately shy, it didn’t get any better
in elementary school. When I was 12, we immigrated
to the United States. I entered a junior high school with 1,200
students where I was one of 2 Asians, and my sense of isolation continued. I worked really hard, though,
to figure out how do I make friends, and I started developing
a core group of girlfriends with whom I could engage in boy talk
late into the hours of the night. When I was 16, I got a job
at a Chinese restaurant, as a waitress, and this really helped
my connection skills blossom. So rather than asking my customers, “What are you having for dinner tonight?
May I take your order?,” I let them know that they really
mattered to me as people. With my body language,
my eye contact, my smile, I was asking them, “Who are you really underneath
your social mask? How’s your heart feeling? How’s my heart feeling?” I got powerful feedback in the form
of not just their warm responses, but in tips that were often
more than 25% of the total bill. I feel really proud and humble that I was able to overcome
intense shyness and awkwardness to be able to connect
with just about anyone. I took those skills into college
and graduate school. I became a clinical psychologist and the co-creator of
Functional Analytic Psychotherapy with my spouse Bob Kohlenberg. It’s a therapy that focuses
on the power of the connection between therapist and client
as the vehicle in creating change. As a developer and researcher of methods
of creating extraordinary interaction, I finally found a sense
of belonging in a tribe and I have dedicated my life to helping
others feel the same way. So I’m here today to share with you
three simple but powerful steps in a formula to create
extraordinary interaction. “Extraordinary” comes
from Latin term “extra ordinem,” outside the normal course of events. Synonyms are: “remarkable,”
“exceptional,” and “unforgettable.” There are three components
to an extraordinary interaction: open-hearted disclosure
of what feels vulnerable and outside of one’s comfort zone, there’s being received with warmth,
acceptance and non-judgment, expressed appreciation of everyone
involved in the interaction. Since I’m a scientist, it’s taking all my
self-restraint to not inundate you with data to convince you
that this three-step formula really works. What I’ve done is I narrowed it down
to one data slide that is representative of the work my colleagues and I do at University of Washington’s Center
for Science of Social Connection. In this one study, 77 undergraduates had encounters
with research assistants who were open-hearted, warm, appreciative. They just answered questions like what
I’m going to be sharing with you today, such as, “What does your heart long for?” One measure of impact that we used was
the “Inclusion of Other in Self Scale” which has circles indicating
how close you feel to someone. Before they interacted, subjects
indicated that they felt separate from the research assistants,
which is to be expected. And then after engaging
in these penetrating questions that were mutually responded to, this is how close they felt. So, a sense of separateness transforms into a sense of closeness through short open-hearted conversations. More importantly, it’s the visceral
sense of what happens when you have a close interaction. I’ll never forget the student who told me, after participating in the study, that she was so moved she was going to change her major
from engineering to psychology, so that she could become
a clinical psychologist! (Laughter) To give you more of an emotional sense of what extraordinary
interactions can be like, I’m going to show you a video
in which I facilitated these really powerful experiences
using six questions. These are snippets, what you’ll see
are snippets of conversations between relative strangers who came to my Live with Awareness,
Courage and Love Meetup at the University of Washington,
and who volunteered to be in this video. They are very brave souls. What I said to them was:
“Just be yourself, be open-hearted in self-disclosing
when I pose you questions, and listen to your partners with warmth. Just let them know ‘I’m here. Really
listening. I’m not judging you.'” So watch for how they
disclose with vulnerability, listen with acceptance,
and express appreciation. (Video) [Creating extraordinary interactions] What’s a strong value
or conviction you have that you’re willing
to make sacrifices for? That all the things I believe that other people deserve, to believe that I deserve them. It’s that… people are good. Authenticity, being real. What does your heart long for? A place that feels like home. That, no matter what, I am lovable, To, like, let people in more,
and not be so afraid of that. I pretend that… It’s okay, I don’t need other people,
I don’t need that connection. I pretend to be stronger
than I am at times. I don’t always feel very capable of just being in this world and living life. If I had the courage, I would… I would tell my story to the whole world. My partner being in a state hospital because he tried to kill himself. I’d have some really hard conversations, some conversations that need to be had with people that are really close to me. I’d probably retire… right now. What’s a truth that feels scary
or vulnerable to admit? I have a lot of friends… I’m always active and busy, but I always feel alone. I’m lonely for emotional connection. What do you appreciate about the person
you’ve been sharing with? I really appreciate
your being here with me, with no jugdment,
but kindness and generosity. I appreciate your… seeing me and hearing me. I appreciate that what’s
inside you is so real, and so much like me. It doesn’t take a scientist
to see how connected they felt after disclosing with vulnerability,
listening with acceptance, and expressing appreciation. Take these questions
and make them your own. Use them in line at the grocery store with
strangers, at parties with acquaintances. Use them with someone close to you. I know, though, that it can feel
really scary and risky to do this, so what I’m going to do now is
step outside of my comfort zone, even more than I already
have by giving this talk, and answering the question
that’s the toughest: “What’s a truth that feels
vulnerable or scary to admit?” It’s this. My partner of 39 years,
the love of my life, is 17 years older than me, so chances are he’s going to go before me, and I’m going to feel
really lost without him. He’s enriched the joy and the meaning
of my life beyond measure with his wondrous presence,
his passionate love, his fertile mind, his steadfast support of who I am. I can’t imagine living my life
without my North Star. This talk is dedicated to you, Bob. If I can do this in front of an audience,
you can do it with individuals. Who could you have
an extraordinary interaction with? Who pops into your mind right now? Try it and post about
your experiences on Facebook at the Create Extraordinary
Interactions page, so that you can inspire
everyone else to do the same. Remember a huge body
of scientific evidence shows that our ability to form
close connections not only increases
our mental and physical health, but interpersonal closeness
helps us live longer. Together we can enhance
everyone’s well-being and sense of belonging in this world. Let’s do it! Thank you. (Applause)

20 thoughts on “Create Extraordinary Interactions | Mavis Tsai | TEDxEverett”

  1. Very meaningful message. Thanks for sharing. Nechama and I just watched it and discussed it. Lots to think about

  2. The POWER of TED Talks
    I'm so grateful for all the people who contributed to letting me watch this video, from the Lady talking herself to my parents giving me an access to internet or simply teaching me English…

    God Bless You and live with Passion!

  3. Incorporating these elements ; awareness, courage and love (ACL – the 3 processes to which Mavis Tsai refers)…in a practiced and committed way….even cautiously experimenting with them,…can transform your life. I am dead serious about this. The application of ACL, is not just a theory, not just an interpersonal system of psychotherapy (, not just a contextual behavioral research base (, not just a community of relationbships on several continents (, – what it mostly is to me,…. is a live, experiential, indivdiually transcendent, vital way of learning and living.
    It will…, it has, transformed my life in radical ways.

  4. I'm sure this is true for many people. However there are others who enjoy solitude and are more introverted naturally. There's nothing wrong with that. I just wanted to say this because I feel there could be someone watching this video who might feel inadequate. There are many types of people in this world. Personally, although I have good relationships, I find my best and most solid relationship in meditation and connection with spirit.

  5. I love listening to you Mavis! You are such a wonderful, wonderful person. I look forward to any information you present and give to this world. Your perspectives are so enriching.

  6. Mavis Tsai, you are amazing , beautiful voice … I wish I good do therapy with you …but I am so far away …..

  7. She is inspiring. We all need connections but fear of being hurt keep us apart. She is brave in self disclosing and touches those she is in contact with.

  8. Powerful, inspiring. The key is to take out the facade we wear and become vulnerable. Only when we become vulnerable we can have meaningful emotional experiences

  9. My lover, with whom I spent 38 years, was 13 years older than I. Besides unconditional love and affection, he offered inspiration, direction, encouragement, dedication, appreciation and constant support. When he died 10 years ago, I felt lost at first. Later I realized that his legacy was not lost on me. I will miss him until I die, but I can go on because he left me in good stead.

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