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5 Steps to Instantly Connect More Deeply with Anyone and Everyone

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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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