The idea of building strong relationships is appealing to a lot of us … but what’s the best way to create personal connections? There are lots of methods, and it takes time. But don’t be afraid of the work! People are made to connect with each other, so it’s worth practicing these tips.
Start with a Question
When opening a conversation, whether it’s in a professional setting with a group, or just a friend, save time by asking “how are you doing?” and then listen to their response. While you may not have time for a heart-to-heart conversation, allowing people to share what’s on their mind is a good ice breaker before getting down to business.
Vulnerability can be really hard. It’s been described as emotional risk and exposure. It’s allowing our true authentic selves to show without any armor we may put up. Many people have trained themselves to suppress this part of themselves and are only truly open with a few people.
But vulnerability is the key to connection. Brené Brown is a world-renowned researcher and expert on vulnerability. She has a lot to say on the subject. “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences,” she said. “Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
Send Thank You Notes
The art of writing a letter writing is in decline, as more of us turn to texting and emails to convey a message in the fewest number of words as possible. One powerful way to forge connections is to send a handwritten thank you note after a lunch date, a great phone call, or even to just thank someone for being your friend.
Not sure how to start? Here’s a quick outline for a great thank you note!
- Start with the date in one of the upper corners of your page.
- Pick your salutation, which is a fancy word for how you say “hi.” “Dear (insert name here)” is a classic choice.
- Start with the reason you’re writing. Here’s an example: “I wanted to reach out and say thank you for being with me last week when I needed a listening ear.”
- Expand with anything else you want to add, such as, “I’ve loved having you in my life and am excited to see where life will take our friendship next!”
- Add your closing phrase. “Thanks again” or “Sincerely” are both good examples.
- Sign your name to finish.
This format isn’t reserved for paper letters either! Although physical letters are a great change of pace for many of us, sending an email with the same sentiments is a great way to send your note if you only have a few minutes to do it. Expressing gratitude not only makes you feel good, but it helps to form strong bonds of connection.
Be a Good Listener
The best way to be a good communicator is to be a good listener. According to a study by the University of Missouri, we spend 45% of our time communicating by just listening, which blew time spent writing, reading, and speaking out of the water. When we already spend so much time listening, there are lots of ways to improve our listening skills so we can connect with others better.
A lot of active listening is in our body language. Make sure to maintain eye contact, stay off your phone or other devices, smile when appropriate, and nod along with what they are saying. By showing you’re engaged in your conversation, you’re building trust, which translates to stronger connection. Here are some more tips to help you nail your listening.
Another important part of listening is making sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. In other words, always consider your motive for being a good listener. Make sure that you’re listening to understand, not listening to defend your position or correct the other person.
Building connections with others is a natural and vital part of our lives. When we feel close to those we work with, we are happier, more confident, and feel an increase in our general well-being. You’ll never regret making positive connections.
Connection can break down through conflict. Read our blog on how to avoid conflict in your family!