How I'm Trying To Better Connect With People

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

One of the podcasts that I follow pretty regularly is Mind Body Musings, a wellness podcast that is often directed toward inspiring women but can offer insight helpful to anyone. An episode went up recently about six ways to connect with someone both quickly and deeply.

The title alone caught my eye. I like connecting with people. I'm not a fan of small talk (partially because I'm also not good at it) and would much rather talk about something more significant. I like the parts of friendship where you can feel that the two of you are bonding over something.

Listening to the episode, though, made me realize that while I may enjoy connecting with others, I'm not always acting like I do, and that if I changed a few of my behaviors, even a little, I could have better connections with the people around me.

Ask thoughtful questions about what they're speaking about

Too often I'm listening to someone not to actually listen, but to respond. I don't mean it selfishly. The reason for it is mostly because, like I said, I'm bad at small talk and keeping a conversation going. So depending on who I'm talking to, I may be listening while also mentally preparing what to say next.

The ironic part is that if I don't know a person well enough to comfortably keep a conversation going, they're a person I ought to be more inclined to want to connect with, yet my actions do the opposite.

Truthfully, though, it doesn't matter why I'm doing it. It only matters that I'm doing it. Someone is talking to me, and half of me is listening while the other half is focused on me. In the episode, Maddy points out that if someone tells us a story, we'll often respond with one of our own because we view that as connecting. I'm telling a story similar to yours so now we can bond over that topic. It's good intentions that could conversely end up making someone feel ignored.

 Don't interrupt

I am the worst when it comes to this. I am always interrupting people because I'm excited to chime in but I probably end up hijacking the conversation too often because of it. Letting people speak fully is something I need to work on. And seeing that written out makes me feel terrible. I know I wouldn't enjoy talking to somebody who constantly interrupted me, so why am I doing that to others?

It's especially important to keep in mind when talking with somebody for the first time. First impressions matter, and I don't want to be known as the girl who always tries to talk over you.

Ever since listening to that podcast episode, I've been acutely aware of others interrupting. Even though it could (and likely does) mean they're interested in the conversation, it actually comes off as disrespectful.

Acknowledge them on something they often aren't recognized for

In general, I try to do this regularly. If I have a kind thought about a person, even something as simple as liking their outfit that day, I do my best to express it. A little goes a long way.

Compliments are always great, but they feel particularly special when they're for something more "unusual." It means someone is paying attention. The effort you're putting in isn't overlooked. You're being seen.

As an introvert, I observe a lot. I think I'm good at reading people and sensing what they're feeling even if they haven't outwardly expressed it. I see people, and so in turn, I want to make them feel seen too.

Body language

Similar to how I sometimes listen already prepared to talk, there are times where I'm in the midst of a conversation but my body language is conveying that I'm already checked out. I'll be glancing at my phone or email while someone's talking. If I'm busy, I'll be half-listening while edging away. It's rude.

What you say with your body language is just as important as what you say out loud. In those situations, I should either give that person my full attention, or tell them I'm busy and exit the conversation, instead of having one foot in and one foot out.

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