The advent of phones and other technologies has given us more excuses than ever to tune-out the world around us and just focus on video, media, and the superficial. This has led to a real disconnect when communicating face-to-face with colleagues, friends, family or the people around us. Fewer people than ever have the communication skills they need to carry out an engaging conversation where both sides feel like they are truly connecting with the other.
Do you remember the last time you walked away from a conversation that left you feeling happy, valued, engaged, curious and/or excited to talk more or see that person again? What if you could leave all your conversations making the other person feel exactly like this? Not only will people regard highly of you but they speak well about you and look forward to seeing and connecting with you more.
This could bring positive benefits to you at work, when networking, trying to make new friends and/or spending quality with family and friends.
Positive psychology research indicates that positive social interactions will also increase your well-being and provide greater life satisfaction. It’s a win-win situation.
If you’re striving to live a happy, successful and fulfilled life, it’s important to realise the value and importance of building deep and meaningful connections with those around you. However, taking your communication past the superficial back-and-forth that we have grown accustomed to can be difficult.
Here are 3 simple steps that can elevate your communications skill to the next level and help you connect deeply with those around you.
Use Active Listening Skills
'We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.' ~ Epictetus
One of the best ways to engage someone in a conversation is to demonstrate to them that you are engaged in the conversation yourself. You can do this by using active listening techniques, which ensure that you are 100% focused on the conversation you’re having, and not thinking about what you might be eating for lunch later.
Here’s what active listening means:
- Be mindful and fully in the moment
- Maintain eye contact (but don’t stare)
- Be attentive, and relaxed
- Keep an open mind
- Picture what the speaker is saying
- Don’t interrupt
- Don’t assume, ask questions to ensure understanding
Active listening will translate into better, more refined responses, further engaging the other person. It will also automatically lead to an open and receptive body language that lets the person know you are interested and fully engaged.
Today, it can be very difficult to know when and how to reach out to others. This goes back to listening, but you need to be listening on an emotional level in order to build an emotional connection. Focus on connecting beyond ideas and concepts and really delve into the feelings that those concepts and ideas entail. Ask yourself or the person your speaking to questions like, 'How are they feeling?', 'How did they feel?', 'What did it make them feel like?' can help you connect more in an emotional way.
When you can empathize with and reflect on these emotions, that’s when you start making connections with people at a deeper level and they will automatically feel closer to you too.
One of the biggest hurdles most people face when communicating with someone in person is, “What do I say next?” Not knowing what to say, or feeling like you don’t have the right responses, can lead you to lose confidence in your communication abilities. This, in turn, can dissuade you to not wanting to communicate in person unless you have to.
Fortunately, figuring out what to say actually isn’t difficult at all. Asking questions is the number one way to keep the person engaged and carry on the conversation. If they are communicating good too, they’ll answer your question and then ask you an open-ended question in response. At that point, you’ll get lost in the discussion and you’ll stop worrying so much.
Don’t be afraid to delve deeper with your questions. Ask about their childhood, what excites or scares them, what their dreams are. The more you can stir away from the superficial the more you are likely to really understand the essence of the person you are conversing with.
If you follow these tips, you can be communicating and building connections with ease no matter who you find yourself talking to.
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