Building Connections: How to Be A Relationship Ninja | Rosan Auyeung-Chen | TEDxSFU

if you met me as a child you would have

seen a girl with glasses ever so big it

took up half her face while the lower

half was filled with a lot of metal I

had metal braces and it came with a

tasteful neck gear that was basically a

piece of wire that went into one side my

mouth out around my neck and in the

other side now SSL wasn't enough I

decided to complete the look by wearing

my older brother's hand-me-downs as

where as clipping this huge bow on the

top of my ponytail every single morning

now every time I shared this story with

my friends they would look at me and say

oh man you must have had a lonely

childhood I don't blame them I

personally would have thought so myself

except it wasn't I learned at a young

age you are never lonely if you can

connect I guess I have my father to

thank when he was a child

my great-uncle approached my grandfather

and told him that he was gonna leave

China he wanted to build a better future

for himself so he told my grandfather I

can take one child claim it as my own

and give that one child a better life my

grandfather chose my father

it was between him and his younger

sister at a young age of 10 my father

left everything he knew followed his

uncle to a land full of mostly strangers

so growing up it was basically the four

of us my brother me my mom and dad

because eventually he came to Canada

when he was in his early 20s but we were

never lonely my dad had this amazing

ability to connect with people and our

lives and memories were always filled

and surrounded by people that cared and

loved us and that's when I realized

family didn't have to be about blood

relations family was something we can

create and from that point on building

connections became a huge part of my


I even became a clinical counselor well

building connections is a necessity for

helping others as Natasha said I work at

Vancouver General Hospital's Takai

Department I provide individual and

group counseling to people struggling

with depression anxiety post-traumatic

stress disorder obsessive-compulsive

disorder adjustment and personality

disorder now before I share my secrets

with you on to how to become a

relationship ninja I have to highlight

sometimes building connections can be

kind of a tricky thing to do it can take

time effort commitment courage I like

today's conference theme for us to take

the lead one thing I learned as a child

but in order to build strong connections

with others you really have to be

strongly connected with yourself you

have to really know yourself by that I

mean you got to know what you like what

you don't like what works for you but

doesn't work for you and of course what

your strengths and weaknesses are as

much as it important to focus and use

our strengths a lot of times we actually

forget it's just as important to

acknowledge and unconditionally accept

our weaknesses only by embracing our

weaknesses do we actually become more

grounded a more stronger as a person

otherwise you might find yourself

feeling easily offended by people and

you actually might end up coming off

that's a little bit defensive as a child

I'll get asked by other kids

occasionally hey what's on your face and

because I was embarrassed about what I

had to wear I would snarl back with

nothing what's wrong with yours

now I quickly learned apparently fellas

not the quickest way to be making

friends and honestly wasn't until I

accepted that my looks were a part of me

and something I couldn't change for a

while that I actually began to focus on

one of my strengths my sense of humor

went interacting with people and soon

after that I started making many many

friends and despite the fact that I

still look the same I was a much happier

kid and even though people still asked

me that same question and no longer felt

like for digging an open wound instead

it was just another question a lot of

times where we're building connections

we have a tendency to want to show

people our good side and just our good

side which makes sense we're trying to

make a good impression hopefully build a

long-lasting connection now take a

moment I want you all to think about

people that you feel closest to you

people that you feel most connected to

take a moment imagine their faces got it

I guarantee they've seen your good side

and you're not so good side it isn't

until we're able to us accept and

embrace ourselves for who we really

truly are that others can do so as well

and that's how we build strong

connections I worked the teenagers for

10 years and I have to say who they

trained me well on this concept don't

take it personally I talk about non

filtering verbalization if I was to take

everything they said personally I

wouldn't even be here today I'll be

living in some remote island try to be

void of any human contact one

interesting thing I actually learned

about this concept just a few years ago

is that sometimes what people say as

much as kind of hurts a little bit

actually might not completely be about

you instead it can be a reflection of

their way of thinking their current

emotional state

are there patterns of behavior one day I

was at work and I had a colleague burst

into my office because they had this

juicy secret she just had to tell me so

I could use a break I listened to the

secret and after she was done on her way

out I remembered she turned around she

looked at me in the eye and said now

remember don't tell anyone because you

kind of have a big mouth sometimes my

head exploded I'm like did she just say

I had a big mouth me a trained counselor

where confidentiality it's like the

number-one rule at that time I knew I

had only two choices one I can consult

my colleague ask for more clarification

but I kind of felt like I might be

walking in an open mind field so I just

decided to the next best thing I went to

a colleague I trusted and I told her the

story now of course I did not tell her

the secret otherwise I just confirmed

the accusation that was made of me I

remember her be action she's like what

no thank goodness if anything she just

told you a juicy secret and everyone

knows if you tell her something the

whole departments gonna know by the end

of the day now I actually didn't know

that but it felt good to consult in

someone I trust so sometimes if you feel

like someone said something that really

hurt either

ask for clarification or do what I did

ask someone that you trust the next one

is my favorite bad vibes how many you of

you out there just met someone you just

talk to them or you barely know them

maybe had just a few words here and

there but for some reason the moment you

saw them you just did it like them put


this you show hands that's right let's

be honest okay put it down now for the

sake of my presentation I'm not gonna

ask how many of you had that feeling

when you saw me come out on stage and I

do sincerely apologize if your neighbor

looked at you before putting up their

hat now bad vibes that's a really

interesting thing we always say oh he

gave me a bad vibe or she's giving me a

bad vibe but in reality they actually

didn't they didn't do anything all they

did was come into your line of vision

what happened was you saw them and then

you decided I don't like that person and

you labeled them with bad vibes

I remember when I was 16 and I had my

first day of volunteer work at a day

camp and I came home telling my father

how oh there was just other volunteer

that I just didn't like I remember my

dad looking at me saying why you don't

even know her I remember looking at my

father in the eye and saying oh you know

how it is you just sometimes meet people

and you don't like them but you don't

know them at all and I remember my

father was like he's like thinking where

did my 16 year old daughter go and how

does she get replaced with this old lady

full of wisdom that just spoke one of

the unsaid truths with human interaction

so all you said was go finish your

Chinese soup so the next time you have a

bad vibe from someone take some time ask

yourself what it is about that person

that really bothered you it might not be

a fun task by guarantee you actually

learn more about yourself now human

beings were all amazing storytellers

every single one of us we tell ourselves

stories all the time someone offs are

loud storytellers some of us are a bit

more quiet storytellers but we tell

ourselves over 50 stories a day about

ourselves about our family about our

friends and even strangers

it's how we interact with the world now

that's all fine and dandy until we

forget that their stories and we start

telling ourselves that they are facts

judgments and assumptions sometimes when

I'm working with my clients I'll point

out oh you just made a judgement or

assumption and to because I didn't know

I didn't and a lot of times it could be

a hard thing to catch because at some

point we tell ourselves stories so often

it just became second nature

so judgments usually would have some

evaluative term maybe pretty ugly big

small right or wrong and with

assumptions it usually would have the

word should always and must now I don't

know about you but I don't know anyone

that can actually read minds but I do

know a lot of people that don't

appreciate being judged and don't

appreciate having assumptions made about

them before I came into this field and

like you most of you as well you might

have to think that counselors cycle a

psychologist therapist they must be

these relationship ninjas DIMP us have

these amazing relationships with family

friends peers and I actually thought so

too in fact if I heard a marriage

counselor was getting a divorce I'll be

thinking oh maybe that counselors not

too good or which is funny because we

don't judge a medical doctors ability to

help people but how many times he or she

gets sick but the one thing I realized

when I came to the field was oh there

were two things that I learned one from

the moment you received your training

it's almost as if someone put these

microscopic glasses on you and you

suddenly see every single characteristic

trait about everybody you see all the

good and well they're not so attractive

traits as well in fact sometimes I find

that I often have to turn off my brain

when I'm talking to people

otherwise I will start over analyzing

their words and over analyzing the


that's when I realized hmm ignorant is

bliss sometimes secondly even though

clinical psychologists and counselors

yes we are equipped with more skills to

overcome social hurdles however it still

takes to to build a connection and no

matter how hard you try if the other

person isn't putting any effort you

wouldn't be able to build any

connections next is about it's all in

the delivery

now there we go a lot of times we kind

of hate communication it feels like such

a pesky thing to do unfortunately we're

stuck with it and actually at a young

age I realized it's actually not hard to

be honest with people it's not what you

say it's actually how you say it that

ultimately affects the other person

imagine this if you were to give someone

a present which would be better received

one where you shove them a brown paper

bag or one where it was very obvious you

put time and effort into putting the

president into a nicely gift-wrapped box

I think we can all agree on the ladder I

call this communication gift wrapping I

always tell my clients where you're

trying to tell someone something just

actually take some time put some effort

in think about what is it that you

really want to say try to keep it simple

try not to talk too much around Milan

otherwise people might feel a little

confused and actually misinterpret what

it is you're actually really trying to

say now we all struggle sometimes but

telling people news that might be bad

what I always suggest is why don't you

pulls it as a suggestion for exploration

rather than something etched in stone

and it never hurts to highlight why it

is beneficial for this person to know

this new piece of information even if it

hurts I was when he shopping with a

friend of mine and a few years ago and

she was trying on wedding dresses and

after two I remember her looking at me

going oh nothing fits well I feel so fat

I look fat don't I

I think we all can agree Oh dangerous

position to be in

I remember looking at her and saying

well I just don't think those stress

tiles suit your body type right now you

think I would have dodged a bullet there

unfortunately she didn't let me off the

hook and the closest exit was too far

away from me

so she's like you do think I'm fat don't

I and I actually ended up sticking to

the facts I asked her right back I'm

like well have you been eating

differently do your clothes feel

different have you been exercising less

and you know what I think you can all

guess I didn't even have to answer the

question she came to her own conclusion

and she didn't hate me afterwards either

a lot of times people tell us that I

don't care if I'm lonely but let's face

it no one really wants to be lonely and

it's true we often forget you were

honestly never lonely when you connect

it's only through connections that

brings out care compassion love empathy

and humanity in all of us unfortunately

it's when were disconnected that people

do things that hurt themselves and

others in the world like we see in the

news today so I challenge you all here

today over the next break next day next

week next month next year make a

connection you pursue prised at the

impact that can have on you and the

other person for some of you in the

audience you know that I just had my

second child earlier this year I also

have an older daughter named Rachel and

it's been a challenging task trying to

prepare for this talk and take care of a

newborn son but I figured haha what's a

better way to build a talk about

building connections than to implement

it on my son

so I practice with him every single day

and it

take me long to get a reaction out of

him I even took a picture I still love

him I didn't give up remember building

connections takes time sometimes it can

take a lot more effort so I kept going

and I kept trying and I kept trying and

finally I got a different reaction out

of him remember don't take it personally

thank you