2 Strategies To Develop Connections Anywhere
Connection Is The Key To Good Communication
I love to meet interesting people. On one of my flights, I ended up sitting next to a woman in her mid-50s and I discovered that she worked in the justice system.
Her work was intriguing as there were some crossovers between the work she was doing and in the women we work with at Open Door Outreach, so I asked her questions. She told me how the things she learned through work had impacted her family in a positive way.
She also shared personal details about her life, so I opened up too and told her about the work we were doing with women and how we wanted to influence women to have healthy relationships and to embrace life.
I talked about how my kids live in different places around the world and how much I missed them.
When I walked off the plane, I thought, “That was a good conversation!”
It was good because we connected.
When it comes to communication, connection is key.
What Is Connection?
So what is connection? Connection is a point of contact in relationship where two people meet.
There are many different points of contact:
- Lovers embracing
- A father praising his son
- A mother holding her child
- One person talk and the other listening
- Bringing someone soup when they’re sick
- Ordering coffee from the same person at Starbucks
- Regularly listening to the same thought leader on a podcast
Connection can look different and have different degrees; it can be minimal like a handshake, or it can be very deep and rich.
When we’re not intentional about connecting with others, it doesn’t always happen automatically. But anytime that we interact with each other, there’s an opportunity to connect and we can be intentional about making that connection happen.
Here are two simple strategies that you can practice anywhere to help you develop your connection skills…
#1 — Use Humour To Help You Connect
My father walks around Walmart regularly and he loves it. It not only gives him the exercise he needs in a safe way because there aren’t any steps, but it also gives him connection with people outside of his family.
Having opportunities to regularly connect with people is vital for his emotional health, just as it is for ours.
On this particular day, I followed my father around the store and realized that he’s very good at connecting with people…
One of the ways he connects with others is by making them laugh.
I’ve seen him buy dog food and as the cashier is ringing it through, he will say, “Yeah, we’re going to have a good supper tonight!”
And the cashier would look at him strangely because first of all, most people don’t talk to them and second, they couldn’t figure out what my father was talking about.
Soon, however, the cashier will get the joke and light up. My father loves humour and it’s a great way to connect with people because it disarms them.
#2 — Find Common Ground To Help You Connect
Another way to connect with people is to find common ground. In order to find common ground with someone, we need to shift our mindset.
Instead of thinking about “you” and “they” and “them,” we need to think about “us” and “we.”
This requires a little bit of effort because our focus really needs to be on the other person. It means that we’re paying close attention to what they say and we’re looking for queues on how we can engage the other person in a conversation they’re interested in.
Connection is vital for our relationships to thrive and it’s also crucial for our emotional wellbeing. The opposite of connection is loneliness and that’s toxic to our health (read more on this topic here).
However, if you find connecting difficult at times, keep in mind that some people are more naturally gifted at connecting than others. Some of us will need to work harder to develop this skill but the good news is that any of us can learn to become better connectors.
2 Practical Tips For Connecting Better With Others
1. First, begin right where you’re at, whether that’s at work, at home or a place where you’re volunteering, to practice connecting better with others.
2. Next, give yourself time to develop this skill. Nobody becomes an artist overnight; it takes lots of time to practice the same skills over and over before an artist is recognized as a master.
So don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the results you want right away.
Communication is so much more than just talking and listening; it’s about being able to connect with others. Finding common ground and having a sense of humour are two ways that we can connect with other people.
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