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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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