From Tyler: The ability to communicate effectively and meaningfully with people around us in our daily lives is one of, if not THE most important skills to possess in order to have an enriched experience. What advice do you have for someone who struggles to make connections easily with those around them, and what techniques do you employ to make communication and relationship cultivating easier for yourself?
Right on! Effective communication is vital in creating meaningful relationships and having a full, happy life. I’m going to approach this question in two parts, addressing verbal and non-verbal communication. Open body language as well as empathic spoken words can help to build bonds with others. Forging real connections is all about getting present with yourself and allowing other people to see and know the true you.
Here are my tricks for making friends fast:
1. Become aware of your body language. When you walk into a room with your shoulders back, standing tall, others will assume you are confident and open. They will be drawn to you and want to meet you. On the contrary, if you’re sitting in the corner with your arms and legs crossed, people will see you as closed off and they will tend to leave you alone to wallow in your misery.
2. Smile. A smile is an invitation, a true gesture of warmth and friendliness. In addition to making you more approachable, studies have shown that the act of smiling can actually make you feel better, too.
“Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.” – George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
3. Empathize. One of the fastest ways to develop a connection with another person is to empathize with him. Merriam-Webster defines empathy as, the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions. If someone you know is going through a tough time, allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your own experiences. Be honest and show compassion without judgement, and you will be amazed at how fast your friendship roster skyrockets.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” – Brené Brown
4. Listen. In order to truly connect with someone, you must really listen and hear what he is saying. Make eye contact, absorb the full context of the conversation, including verbal and non-verbal cues, affirm what you are hearing, and allow the person to finish before you respond. Listening to someone with your full presence is an incredible gift of generosity and love, which will be repaid in abundant, meaningful relationships.
Check out this video for examples of these techniques: what not to do when you’re trying to make friends.
Thank you, Tyler, for your thoughtful question. May your communication be enriched and your relationships be fruitful.
If any of you guys have something to add, I’d love to hear your communication and connection strategies. Leave a comment and keep this conversation going!