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5 Steps to Instantly Connect More Deeply with Anyone and Everyone

5 Steps to Instantly Connect More Deeply with Anyone and Everyone

Connection with other people is one of the most important aspects of life, but when you’re not connecting, it can be hard to figure out what’s going wrong. Whether it’s with friends, family members, co-workers, or kids, the following five steps will help you quickly move from feeling isolated and disconnected to being able to create deep and meaningful connections no matter who’s in front of you.

1  Breathe, relax and find your center

One of the things I notice when I’m feeling disconnected from others is that I’m usually also feeling sad, anxious, or angry. The reason I’m disconnected is because I’ve been avoiding the natural connection that is easily available when I’m present and enjoying life.

So, the first thing to do when you find yourself out of sorts is to stop, take some deep breaths, and notice what’s going on inside of you. When we can tune in to our own emotional world, or physical sensations in our bodies, or anxiety-producing thoughts that keep swirling in our minds, we’re much better able to put those thoughts, feelings or sensations into perspective. Rather than determining our experience, these things are simply a part of our experience and can be either dealt with in the moment or put aside until later, allowing us to be more present and available for connection.

After tuning in, it’s much easier to “find your center” or discover your unmoving sense of self. For instance, when I’m feeling sad, I disconnect and sulk, but when I notice I’m feeling sad, I’m able to say to myself, “I’m feeling sad right now, but I am not my sadness. I am generally a joyful person who cares a lot about others. My kind and loving heart is the core of who I am.” Ahhh, that feels MUCH better.

2  Make eye contact

Now that you’ve discovered what’s happening with you that has been keeping you away from connection with others, it’s time to make yourself more available by making eye contact. When we avoid connection, we often avoid eye contact. That’s because the eyes really are like windows to the soul.

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When we make eye contact, a LOT of information is transmitted from one person to another. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of looking into someone’s eyes and suddenly thinking, “I know exactly how this person is feeling.” Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re wrong, but by making eye contact we make our selves vulnerable and available in a way that we just aren’t when we look down or away.

If you find extended eye contact difficult, go back to step one, breathe, relax, and tune in to your own thoughts and feelings and then when you’re ready to connect again, resume eye contact. Sometimes just taking a deep breath is enough to help me relax enough to maintain eye contact.

One more thing about eye contact: don’t try to look at both eyes at once or to give each eye equal time. Instead, just decide to look into one eye without shifting your gaze. I usually use the left eye, but that’s just my personal preference. By choosing one eye and maintaining steady but relaxed eye contact, the other person knows that you’re available and ready to connect.

3  Tune in and practice empathy

Now put your attention on the other person. Really take a moment to stop thinking about what you’re about to say or where you’re headed next, or what the other person is thinking about you and actually pay attention to the person across from you. Get curious about what the other person is experiencing. Is she feeling sad, hurt, or happy? Is he distracted by the television in the room? Does the energy of the conversation seem to change when he talks about his dad?

By noticing some of the subtle shifts in the conversation and then checking in about them, you can quickly move from small talk into a deeper connection. For example, perhaps you and a co-worker are talking about the weather:

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Y: “Wow, it’s freezing out there! The wind is really blowing!”

T: “I know! I almost slipped on some ice on my way to work this morning. It’s a good thing my mom isn’t planning on running any errands today. She broke her hip last winter.”

Y: “You know, I could really feel how much you care about and want to protect your mom when you shared that. Was it a bad break?”

T: “Yeah, it took months to heal and definitely took a toll on the whole family. We’re used to Mom taking care of us, not the other way around.”

Y: “I bet it’s scary to see the tables turning as your parents get older. I’m going through that too, and it’s so disconcerting to see my parents need more and more help as they age. I wish they could stay young and healthy forever.”

4  Appreciate and enjoy

Now that you’ve connected and empathized, make sure to keep things moving in a positive direction. You want to connect, but you don’t want to see this person in the hall a few days later and think about what a dark, heavy conversation you had. Instead, you want to leave the other person feeling appreciated and remembering what an enjoyable conversation it was.

Even dark or heavy topics can still feel enjoyable if you practice appreciation during the conversation. Take the above example, can you see where Y was appreciating and enjoying T’s love for his mom?

When we can genuinely appreciate and enjoy the person we’re connecting with, they feel seen and accepted and want to continue to connect further.

If you’re having trouble enjoying a particular person, just try to find one thing to appreciate about them in that moment. Maybe their hair smells nice, or you like their smile, or the sound of their voice reminds you of your favorite uncle. By focusing on the thing you enjoy, your appreciation will come through naturally without additional effort on your part.

5  Lighten up

One of the pitfalls of wanting deeper connection with people is that we can get stuck in a mode of thinking that “deeper connection” has to look and feel a certain way. Let me assure you, it doesn’t. When we can let go of any attachments we might have to a conversation going a certain way, and simply enjoy where it’s going organically, we take the pressure off and allow for much more fun and connection.

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And, by showing that you’re not dead set on discovering their deepest darkest secret or uncovering some childhood trauma, you’re inviting a level of openness and vulnerability that the other person is comfortable with. That will ultimately lead to more spontaneous sharing that is much more likely to result to an ongoing deepening of connection.

Having fun is a great way to connect with others and it’s a wonderful indicator of whether you’ll want to continue this connection into the future. If it’s no fun, you probably won’t want to do it again.

So, those are my five steps to connect more deeply with anyone and everyone. I would love to know your thoughts, please share a story or comment below.

And have a fabulous day, Shelly

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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