Cheers! and our need for connection

Some of you may remember the tv show, “Cheers!“. This long running tv series offers insight into our need for connection and friendship. For those that haven’t seen it, Cheers is the name of a bar and the show focuses on the regular patrons. When they walk in, everyone knows them and they feel like they are home. The show had a theme song with a chorus:

“Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name”

There’s wisdom in that little chorus. We all want to be known. When we walk into a room we want someone there to be glad that we’ve arrived.

Being known

We want to be known, but we have to show some effort. I like to go to my local Panera Bread. (I’m there right now.) I started regularly supporting this place a few years ago. Initially, I was just another customer. But, over time, things changed. Last week I finished blogging, packed up and headed for the door. As I reached the door I heard a chorus of “Bye!” from behind the counter. I looked back and the people who worked here were waving. I told my wife and she said, “That place is your Cheers.” She is right! I feel a connection with others there. But, that didn’t happen over night and it took a little effort.

Be friendly

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,… This piece of wisdom comes from the Bible, Proverbs 18:24. Friendship takes effort on our part. We can’t simply expect everyone around us to do all the work. Do you say hello? Try asking people questions like “How are you doing?” “Did you do anything interesting this weekend?”. You can do it. People will want to know you more if you invest energy into trying to know them.


Active listening is an art. First off, put your phone away. In order to listen, you need to be looking at the person talking. Look in their face, but don’t stare. If you want to nod, that’s good. You can also slightly tilt your head when they speak. And, repeat a few of their words when they finish.


The next time you talk with this person, bring up something that you were talking about. I was having a conversation with a fellow teacher a few weeks ago. His son had gone to the emergency room the night before and he was tired. A few days later I asked how his son was doing and I could see that this surprised him. When it comes to proving that you are listening It’s a pretty low bar out there right now. It doesn’t take much to surprise people. You don’t need to remember everyone’s kids names and birthdays. Be encouraged, this is easier than you think.

Make time

There is no such thing as ‘drive-by’ deep connections. About four years ago I started meeting with someone from my church. We would get together from time to time. As the years added up we started meeting every Saturday morning. (At Panera, of course) We have a great friendship. But that took time. You will always be busy. Treat your time like your money. Invest it in building friendships with people. I know that my friend will respond in the time of need.

You can make shallow (drive-by) connections with people that may eventually be deep. But, in order to create a solid connection, you’ll need to deepen your time investment. Think about this, you never know when you are in the presence of someone who will become one of your greatest friends.

No assuming and no expectations

We can’t assume that someone already knows us and we can’t expect people to know us. This is tricky. We go to work and expect the boss to know us. At church, we expect the pastor to know us. Well, sorry to say, they probably don’t. (Unless you have a world class boss/pastor.) They have a bunch of people to manage and problems to solve. So, you will need to be proactive. No, I’m not talking about going to them and dumping your troubles on them. They will run away the next time they see you coming. I am talking about using the above techniques to connect. They are human, just like you. Show interest and don’t assume that they are excited to hear from you.

Invest and build

People have a need for connection. If you use these techniques, you will see a strong yield on your friendship investment. And, maybe one day in the near future you’ll have your own “Cheers!” place where everybody knows your name and they’re glad that you came.

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