Conversations, Connections, Communities

My first year of graduate school is done (only 3 more to go)! Being submerged in clinical psychology, it is challenging not to implement things learned into my daily life. What’s even more challenging is identifying which topic is most relevant to discuss here—as they all seem relevant to me! As we have repeatedly stated, we are striving to build a community through connecting with artists and fans alike. When we ask artists the question, “why is what you’re doing important”, everyone seems to respond with an idea of connection. Most artist’s and our goals are the same. Connecting with people, which is of utmost importance—not just as it relates to music, but how it applies to everyday life. This interaction that we all seek is what will be discussed today. I am quite pleased to have found something that, in my mind, fits so well with what we are doing here. Last week, I watched a TED talk that Mavis Tsai delivered on creating extraordinary interactions. Tsai first conceptualized functional analytic psychotherapy, which is an intense treatment that heavily focuses on the therapeutic relationship to maximize behavioral change. In this approach, the therapeutic relationship is of utmost importance, which may be considered uncomfortable at times. In Tsai’s TED talk, she discussed three essential components vital in creating extraordinary interactions in and out of therapy. First, one must disclose with vulnerability, which will most likely bring people outside of their comfort zone. This open disclosure should be met/listened to with warmth, acceptance, in a judgement-free manner. Last, both people must express their appreciation of the other. These three simple steps are all that it takes to form an extraordinary interaction with someone. That’s what we’re doing at Setlist. That’s what the musicians we have interviewed are doing. We are forming interactions / connections with people in every way we can. That’s what we, as humans, are doing. Think back to your closest relationships, whether that be a friend, family member, spouse… I’d be willing to wager that you feel connected with whomever you are thinking of. More so, I would bet that you and the individual you are thinking of have vulnerably disclosed with one another; you listened to each other with acceptance and have expressed your appreciation towards one another. My question then becomes, why can’t we do this with everyone? What’s stopping you from striking up a conversation with a stranger when waiting in the checkout line at a grocery store? The answer should be nothing. Nothing should be in your way to do any of those things with anyone.

We at Setlist believe it is these interactions with others that build friendships, and communities—not to mention, give people a sense of purpose. Sometimes people are shy, and though they have a lot to say, they don’t know how to begin. That’s where the aforementioned components come in. if you approach someone with vulnerability, it will increase the probability of them responding openly to you, thus establishing that connection. In a world that seems to be constantly divided, together we can build communities.

If you’re anything like me, you appreciate some steps / guidance with things like this. Though there is nothing that you need to follow step by step, Tsai suggested several questions that can guide discussion:


  1. What is a strong value/conviction you have that you are willing to make sacrifices for?
  2. If I had the courage, I would…
  3. What does your heart long for?
  4. I pretend that…
  5. What’s a truth that feels scary or vulnerable to admit?
  6. What do you appreciate about the person you’ve been sharing with?


We encourage you to try this with someone, with anyone. You can ask the previously thought of person that you feel close to, another friend or family member, an acquaintance at a party, or a stranger in line at the grocery store. Whoever you choose, know that this might seem risky and scary to do. Recognize these feelings as they arise, accept the feelings you are experiencing, and do this anyway—you’ll be glad you did. Be sure to remember to be yourself, and be openhearted when disclosing. When the other person discloses to you, listen to them, let them know that you are truly there with them, listening to everything they have to say, without judging them. If followed, the purity that unfolds is truly heartwarming. Through compassion comes community.

This is something that is difficult to do, and will surely feel uncomfortable when doing. To provide an example, I will answer the toughest question (in my opinion): What’s a truth that feels scary or vulnerable to admit? I started school 1 year ago. Before starting school, I was devoted to my health and routine, which gave me confidence and self-worth. I started school to pursue a dream to make other’s lives better. In doing so, I have neglected my own body and overall health to the point that it disgusts me to look in the mirror. Though I am striving to make other individuals lives better, mine is suffering. As such, I feel lost. I feel as though I can’t get back to where I was before.

This is a real truth that I am currently facing in my life. If I can share this publically, you can do it with individuals. Who can you have an extraordinary interaction with?

If you feel comfortable enough, leave a comment and let us know about your experience.

Thanks for reading!