It seems like the ability to connect with another human ought to come naturally to us, or at least there should be some kind of “How To Do Life” manual that gives detailed instructions on getting to know people and having quality relationships. Sadly, there is no such manual, and truthfully, many people have a tough time connecting at a heart level. There can be a number of reasons why this happens. Many times it is the result of never having seen deep human connection modeled while we are young. Turns out many people live their whole lives without ever really delving into life at the heart level. If you have not “done life” with heart or seen it done, it is hard to navigate your way there.
The following commentary and video will give you some direct and useful suggestions on how to connect with people. If connecting does not come easily for you these suggestions may be difficult at first – they may even offend you. When confronting blockages to deep connection there is natural resistance. Blockage is blockage. Don’t let that stop you. With time and persistence you will begin to see the fruit of your labor. You will see a change in yourself and then a change in the people around you. Making Real Connections will more than pay off in the long run. You will find that life itself is more worth living.
How to Begin:
1. Get Over Yourself.
Most of us fear getting close to people because they may see something they don’t like and reject us. Some people cope by rejecting others first. Other people are so self-consumed they have no interest in anything that does not relate to themselves. All of us have some kind of insecurity or perceived shortcoming that we focus on making it very difficult to risk intimacy. Bottom line – we have to learn to get over ourselves. Risk is a part of getting to know people. You have to come with vulnerability to get vulnerability.
Solution: I make it a rule to go into a new situation or one that intimidates me by REFUSING to let my thinking shift to myself. I go in looking for some way to connect to the person or group. What can I compliment, how can I encourage, how can I focus the conversation on them? There is, of course, a balance needed here but it is generally a helpful way to start breaking the ice and it keeps me from sinking my own ship with self-doubt.
2. Approach with an Open Heart.
The truth is everyone feels some degree of insecurity. We want to be seen and appreciated. We want to be liked. We enter into most situations with our guard up. If our shields are high people cannot see us. We must do all we can to make them feel safe by being willing to lower our shield. If we come to a meeting with shields up we send the message that we are in fear – that there is danger. Even if you are unaware of it, you are sending a message that you deem this situation unsafe.
Solution: Determine in your mind that you will purposefully drop your shield. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen if you go in with shields lowered. If there is not solid reason to expect to be attacked then be vulnerable and risk an unguarded approach. It is a strong person who can do this. One who is looking for life at the heart level.
There is nothing more useful in developing connection than a willingness to listen. Listen intently. Listen with purpose.
Solution: Think about some questions you might ask this person to find out more about them. Enter the conversation like a detective who is looking for clues. Find out who this person is and what they like. RESIST ALL temptation to make this about YOU! Make it about them. Listen.
4. As Quickly as Possible , Find Common Ground
Your goal is to find a place where the two of you connect – a place of understanding. Use your listening and question asking tools to help you find common ground. THIS IS WHERE CONNECTION WILL HAPPEN.
Solution: Be patient and keep circling until you find some place where you share connection. Build on that spot until you have a foundation beginning to form. The next time you talk to them, revisit your common ground and see what other things you share in common.
The following video is so helpful in learning more about how to connect. Brene Brown narrates a wonderful explanation of Empathy vs Sympathy. Follow her cues and you will be well on your way to making better stronger human connections.
Is it easy for you to make deep connections? If not, take a look at these suggestions. Goodness can help!