It all starts with connection. Connection is how friendships begin, how love grows, and how we support other on life’s journey. Connection helps us to be better lovers and better parents. It enables us to make more of an impact in people’s lives and greatly enriches our own lives. Connection allows us to grow in our careers — if we can connect with others, we can close the deal, encourage our coworkers, and communicate more effectively.
Connecting with others and building a tribe of encouraging, supportive, passionate people is incredibly essential to an awesome life.
Connecting with people who are similar to us is relatively easy. When we have common interests and personalities, we “get” each other. Making connections with people who are very different from us, however, is sometimes quite challenging. Yet it’s important to be able to connect with people who have different strengths than we do.
Here are 8 ways to connect with anyone you meet.
1. Pay attention
When someone is talking to you, listen. Period. When you don’t listen, it makes the other person feel like you don’t care. If you’re not sure about your listening skills, ask friends and family if they feel like you listen when you have conversations with them.
When you’re listening, make eye contact. When you look away frequently, check your phone, or scan the room when someone’s talking to you, it appears that you’re not listening and you destroy the conversation.
2. Seek feedback
To improve your ability to instantly connect with others, seek feedback on your communication skills. One great way to do this is to join a speaking group such as Toastmasters. Toastmasters groups give you opportunities to speak and get helpful feedback from group members regarding your message delivery, body language, and pace. By learning how to be a more effective speaker, you will be on your way to connecting with others.
3. Ask questions
In every conversation, focus on getting to know the other person. People love to talk about themselves. Have you ever met someone and thought, “Wow, that person is awesome” and realized you hardly learned anything about him or her? Chances are, it’s because that person was focused on getting to know you — you were likely asked a lot of questions and spend a good amount of time happily talking about yourself. Be the person in the conversation who asks the questions. Allow others to open up to you and share about themselves.
If you know ahead of time who you’ll be meeting with, do some research to learn about them. This can add depth to your questions and improve your connection.
4. Remember their name
We’ve all met people who say “I’m so bad with names.” That’s not a good way to start forming a connection. Do your best to remember the names of the people you meet. Repeat their name several times, associate it with something memorable or funny (in your head), introduce them to others so you need to state their name out loud — whatever you need to do to remember their name, do it! Remembering who you’re talking to is a key to making them feel important and connect with them.
5. Don’t pretend you know everything
In this article, Graham Young describes the difficulty people have with this concept. He writes, “When talking with others, we often want to show that we are educated and knowledgeable. It can be hard for some people to admit they are learning something new for the first time.” He describes how many leaders have a hard time taking advice because they feel they should know everything, and that employees try hard to prove themselves and not expose any of their personal weaknesses.This combination can cause communication breakdown because neither side acknowledges what the other side tells them. When this connection is dysfunctional, growth and progress are limited. Graham’s advice is to be aware of your ego and work on preventing it from controlling how you behave. Be willing to learn from others and take advice.
When you converse with others, don’t pretend you know everything about everything. It turns people off and decreases your ability to connect with them.
6. Care about others
Nothing else really matters if you don’t act like you care about those around you. Add value to their lives. Go out of your way to help them. Be encouraging, positive, uplifting, and supportive. Say thank you for small things and big things. Whether you send a text, call them, write a note, or give a gift, frequently thank others for helping you and for who they are in general. People love feeling appreciated and cared about.
7. See a room full of friends
When you enter a room, picture everyone there as friends to meet instead of strangers. This will decrease the intimidation factor. Plus, if you’re showing up at the same event or know some of the same people, you probably have something in common with them. Greet them as if they are friends.
8. Connect in person
In today’s world, you can definitely start connecting with others online, but nothing beats getting together in person. Get out from behind your desk and spend time with people at your favorite inspiring places.
Connecting with people can greatly change your life and the lives of others.
My challenge for you today is to make an effort to connect with someone — then send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how it went.
Featured photo credit: Smile because you want to/Rory MacLeod via flickr.com