If you're anything like me, you're trying to figure out how to make better connections. They say that connection is one of the most basic and instinctive traits that all human beings have, so why is it that is can sometimes feel so damn hard to fully understand and connect with a person? There is no doubt that some people are shyer and more socially awkward than others, perhaps not to a diagnosable degree but definitely to a degree where it begins to have an impact on their lives, both professionally and personally. If you are the kind of person who feels like you have to try much harder than everyone else to make a connection with someone, then it might be worth reading up on how to make better connections.
1. Practise Mindful Attention
Do you sometimes find yourself asking a person "how are you," because it is the social norm, and then mentally checking out before they have even given you the time to finish their response? This kind of disconnect is extremely common, and it takes practise to rectify. When I say practise mindful attention, I mean ask someone how they are and then commit to paying attention to their answer, validating them in the form of a follow up question to branch out into a more personal and involved conversation. Don’t treat "how are you" as a simple hello; really mean it when you say it, and respond in suitable fashion whether the person says something negative or positive. That's one of my best answers for how to make better connections.
2. Follow up Questions
Mentioned briefly above, follow up questions are the key to making meaningful connections with people. If you never go deeper than an initial greeting, then you will never gain more than just a base level understanding of one another. It is in the details of the follow up questions and answers that a true connection can begin to be made. Showing someone that you are listening and that you really care can increase their feelings of self-worth.
3. Deepen the Conversation
Rather than taking everything that someone says at face value, make the conversation deeper by asking things like "tell me more" or "what do you mean by that." Questions like these can help a conversation go from the polite facts to the real nitty gritty, and once you are at that deeper level, you then have something to share that is more important and meaningful than just a few simple lines of dialogue between you. An invitation to open up on a certain topic is sometimes all that somebody is looking for.
4. Ask Their Opinion
Rather than filling a conversation by telling someone what you are doing or what you are planning to do, make it a more even and open playing field by asking them their opinion with a simple "what do you think?" By asking this simple question, you are making them feel valued and inviting their input, which immediately creates a more personal connection than if you were only relying on the facts without a response.