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How to Connect With Someone Deeper Within a Short Time

How to Connect With Someone Deeper Within a Short Time

Making friends and building relationships is not easy for most of us.

Often the problem is moving beyond traditional conversation lines, such as: “Hi, how are you today?” and “Not the best weather, let’s hope it’ll be better for the weekend.”

These lines do at least get you into a conversation with someone, but often their response closes down the interaction immediately: “I’m good thanks” and “The weather should be fine for the weekend.”

If you find yourself getting stuck for words at this point, then you need to learn how to boost your interpersonal skills.

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If You Want to Keep a Conversation Going, You Should Make It Like Playing Ping Pong.

If you’ve ever played table tennis, then you’ll be able to quickly grasp the art of self-disclosure.

For example, when playing table tennis (also known as ping pong) with someone, you’ll be engaging in a back-and-forth action with them. This is similar to how conversations are started and sustained.

One party introduces an idea or question – and the other party comments or answers.

Self-disclosure follows the same pattern. For instance, you’ve gone to lunch with a new colleague and beyond talking about the food – you’ve begun to run out of things to say. In this case, you could move into self-disclosure mode and say something like: “You may not believe it, but I’ve been working here for over 10 years. In fact, this is the longest job I’ve ever had.”

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By disclosing these couple of interesting facts about yourself, it’s highly likely that your new colleague will choose to share something about themselves too. They may reply by saying: “Wow, 10 years is a long time. My longest job was only for 6 years. However, my wife has been working at the same place for 12 years now. That’s longer than we’ve been married!”

You Won’t Smash When the Game Begins. You Will Have Some Gentle Warm-Up First.

Coming back to our table tennis metaphor, think about a time when you played against a new opponent.

If it wasn’t during an official competition, then you’re likely to have spent a few minutes playing against each other in a casual warm-up. This would have allowed each of you to gauge how the other person played, and their probable skill level, etc.

Self-disclosure in conversations is much the same. Small talk moves to deeper issues, and gradually each party begins to reveal more of their dreams, fears and beliefs to the other person. Psychologists have labeled this natural occurrence as Social Penetration.[1]

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Of course, a balance must always be found between openness and closeness. For instance, you may not want to reveal intimate details to a new acquaintance, yet, you may be comfortable doing that with an old friend.

You Get to Know If You’re Good Matching Partners After a Few Rounds of the Game

Following a fun warm-up, a table tennis game typically starts to move to a more serious level. It’s at this point that you and your opponent will introduce spin techniques, smashes and flicks. In other words, you’ll begin to become more intimate and connected than during the warm-up phase. You’ll also discover whether you’re well-matched playing partners or not.

Interpersonal skills mirror the above. Once you’ve reached a certain depth of conversation through mutual self-disclosure, it’ll become quickly clear whether the two of you can develop into friends.

You’ll instinctively make this decision based on how the other person’s beliefs, values and social status (for example) compare to yours. This is known as the Social Comparison Theory.[2]

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Practice as You Go

Self-disclosure is not the easiest thing to do. Sometimes it takes courage to step out of your comfort zone. However, the results are well worth the effort. You’ll build friendships quicker and easier. You’ll also know when a friendship could move into a deeper, long-term relationship. (Both romantic and platonic.)

I’ve given you a lot of information in this article. And to help you remember and to act on the main takeaways, I’ve listed them below:

  • Self-disclosure in conversation is reciprocal.
  • Gradually introduce deeper levels of self-disclosure as you get to know someone.
  • Decide on ‘matchability’ by listening to the beliefs, interests and values others disclose to you.
  • Be willing to adapt your conversation and level of self-disclosure to match the person you’re talking with.

Ultimately, self-disclosure becomes natural when we have an intimate friendship or relationship with someone. We want to tell them our hopes and dreams – and we want to listen to theirs too.

So, next time you’re short of things to say to a new acquaintance, let self-disclosure lead the way.

Reference

[1]Communications Studies: Social Penetration Theory
[2]Psychology Today: Social Comparison Theory

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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