Episode Two: The Basis of Human Connection | Vijay Parthasarathay
Updated: Feb 23
This week on Unaffiliated: The Search for Meaning, our host Kathryn Elliott and her guest Vijay Parthasarathay discuss empathy, validation, and the common good from agnostic and Christian viewpoints. Kathryn likes to say that every person has something to teach us, so here are some great takeaways from this week’s episode.
First, a quick introduction. Vijay is an anthropologist and cultural strategist who cares deeply about human dignity and the art of vulnerable connection. In this episode, Vijay helps us to explore ways to adapt, communicate and connect during the global pandemic.
Communication and Media
We need to understand how to communicate particularly over media, like the internet, because we, it's not just that we are not seeing, we're not shaking hands with people because shaking hands is, of course, another very fundamental sort of way of engaging people.
But we need to almost understand how to project our aura. With people over the internet, you know, when you're speaking to friends, colleagues, whoever, right. We need to be able to express ourselves with warmth because the handshake, you know, the hug, a lot of these are essentially signifiers of warmth. Of affection or, you know, professional, you know, bonding . . .
Communication and Visual Cues
It makes me think of when I go to the grocery store now, I find myself crinkling my eyes to show people that I'm smiling at them. So, it's a conscious effort to show warmth with a different part of my face then I would normally even be thinking about
Yeah, it's funny. Right? Because some people don't really smile with their eyes.
When I smile, my eyes crinkle almost naturally. Whereas there are some people whose eyes don't necessarily crinkle in. I think you're absolutely right. Especially when you're wearing masks and stuff. It becomes a little, […] you know, hard to perceive, not just body language, but also emotional cues, you know?
And […] that's often something, you know, something that we take for granted. But […] I think this presents such a wonderful, you know, moment of learning where we can really learn to adjust to reading people a little deeper— wanting to, you know, sort of put ourselves out there and also engage a little deeper with how they are behaving.
And, […] I think that […] this particular juncture is very, you're seeing this very dramatic alteration in how people are interacting with each other.
Setting Boundaries and Our Integrity
How do we relate with people or even show empathy to people that we disagree with without maybe compromising our boundaries or our integrity?
I think boundaries are a very, very important part of all of this, empathy.
You know, it does not mean that it is absolutely unconditional. Boundaries are a way to defend our integrity. Give us an example. We shouldn't just let down our guard automatically vulnerability is a prize. It's something that we shouldn't automatically give away to people. I think, […] you know, when we sort of, […] find the moment of resonance with someone it's okay to start to grow slowly, increasingly vulnerable.
And if you haven't listened to our last episode about "Looking for Unconditional Love," definitely check out our summary of that episode here!