We all have experienced it. That painful silence between us and someone we just met, when we feel like we have nothing to say and seconds seem to last forever, and the mind starts racing through thoughts, looking for a way to escape the awkwardness.
When we know how, breaking the ice and opening up the lines of communication don’t have to be hard, and it can be useful not just with colleagues but also with anyone who we’re just beginning to know.
Vulnerability Is The Key To Building Connection
In an attempt to be accepted by our social groups, we become more and more defensive and conservative when it comes to what we share with people, but research shows that the most important factor when it comes to building connection is vulnerability.
As Brené Brown, a renown researcher in the field of vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame, said in an interview with Dan Schawbel:
“The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.” 
So, a very simple way to inspire connection and closeness with someone is to be brave enough to show some vulnerability. How? A good way is, for example, to tell a personal story.
Share A Personal Story To Get Close To Others
Trusting someone enough to share something personal, is an invitation to a closer relationship and it inspires trust, even more so than competence.
Sure there are many different stories, and you probably don’t want to start your first Monday at work by telling about some of your most compromising behaviours. But sharing something meaningful from your personal sphere will contribute to starting to build a relationship.
In our humanness, experiencing life, it’s the stories we live and the opinions we have about what happens to us that makes us unique and special. So when we are not sharing our stories, we are missing the opportunity to find that which we have in common with others, to learn or teach something new, and to build a new connection.
You May Feel Uncomfortable At First, But You Will Feel So Good Afterwards
It’s an essential part of our social nature to want to be accepted by the group. And no matter if you like or not the job (or the party), you still want to feel accepted because that’s in your nature and that’s what feels good.
But when you find the courage to defy the comfort of hiding in silence, it might be surprising to see how empowering it feels, and how much empathy it generates, to share a story that shows your vulnerability and struggle as a human being.
By doing this, not only we practising being more confident in our own voice, but we might also be casting a light into someone else’s problems. That practice can reinforce our core values, bring a sense peace and hope, and contribute to a greater success, not just in short conversations, but to life in general.
Nowadays, that we are more individualised than ever, and faced with the frequent changing of our social settings (like schools or jobs), getting closer to new people might not be comfortable, and trying to break the ice every day can turn into an added daily stress.
It certainly helps and makes life more enjoyable to have some level of closeness and friendship in our social environment, making every day a little more joyous.
So, next time you’re looking to make a connection, rather than playing safe, find the courage to be vulnerable and share a personal story. That courage, the courage to be real, is more inspiring than your feats.
|Forbes: Brené Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better
|Harvard Business School: The Dynamics Of Warmth And Competence Judgments, And Their Outcomes In Organizations
|Entrepreneur: 5 Ways You Benefit From Sharing Your Story Of Struggle