7 Tips to Creating Meaningful Connections

01/ Lean into your awkward

I always like to say, the comfort zone is a great place... but NOTHING GROWS THERE.

 

While it might be easy or safe to just "do your thing" or avoid the unknown, you are making a choice by doing so; and it will likely get you the same results you've always gotten.

Start by noticing your discomfort as it comes up and use it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. Let's say you're feeling uncomfortable when someone suggests going to a salsa dancing class to meet up. Inquire inside: "What am I really afraid of? Looking silly? Being judged? Being Rejected?"

Then, inquire: "What's truly at risk for me by allowing the discomfort and doing it anyway?"

By choosing to be welcoming of your discomfort, you're choosing to be open to growth and new possibilities. To some of you, just meeting new people in the first place might be out of your comfort zone. So kudos to you for leaning into that anyway!

02/ Respond to your assumptions with curiosity

As humans, we've relied on assumptions a lot to keep us safe. Our brain is literally wired to use information it gathers throughout the course of our lives to inform our choices.

Think about what it might have been like for our caveman ancestors....

Go in cave...
BEAR!
RUN FOR LIFE!

Caves bad.
Caves have bears. No more caves.

The trouble is not ALL assumptions help us. In fact, many will prevent us from experiencing new and exciting things or engaging with new and interesting people!

So, when you notice yourself making an assumption, take it as an opportunity to explore with curiosity.

For example, if you notice yourself thinking something like:
"He's a partner at his firm? He's probably a workaholic"


Instead of assuming, you could ask:
"Do you have a lot of free time? How do you like to spend your time on the weekends?"

This goes for big topics, too, such as religion and politics, for example. Different labels can mean different things to different people. By asking questions, we give ourselves the opportunity to uncover more about a person and a better understanding of what's important to them.

Assumptions can also be made when it comes to how others feel about us.

For example, when you notice yourself thinking:
"She's so pretty and smart, I bet she wouldn't want to befriend a person like me".

 

Why not find out for yourself?:
"I really like you, would you like to grab coffee?"

While your assumptions may be right SOMETIMES... it might be surprising to see how frequently they aren't. Keep curiosity in your back pocket.

03/ Ask Good Questions

"What's your favorite movie" might have worked for us in our younger years, but how much do you REALLY learn about a person from asking that?

We've all got years and years of experiences that help shape who we are and what we bring to the table... family dynamics, friendships, triumphs, losses (whether big or small)... not to mention things like present day dreams, goals, values and preferences.

What we ask can really shape what we get out of the interaction so why not cut right to the good stuff? Stick to open-ended questions (i.e. avoid "yes or no" questions) which allow space for a more thoughtful response.

"What are you most proud of?"

"What scares you the most?"
"When's the last time you laughed hysterically?"

"How would your best friend describe you?"

Ask good questions and watch your conversations expand to more interesting places!

04/ Bring your full presence

This might seem like an obvious one to some, but do your best to keep give your full attention with those you are with. 

 

One of the biggest culprits of distraction these days are our phones. When you're connecting with others, do your best to keep your hands off devices (unless of course you're checking calendars for future plans or sharing that hilarious video of the puppy falling in the toilet bowl).

Distractions can also include thinking about what you have going on after your time together. How present can you really be with them when your mind is on "crap, how am I going to handle this situation I have to tend to once I'm outta here?". When you notice your brain going in different directions, take the opportunity to refocus on those you are connecting with.

Be proactive in creating a distraction-free setting when you're connecting with others. This might include keeping your phone on silent, turning a background TV off, or moving to a more private location.

Side Note: If there are outside things that require your focus during your time together, be up front. Maybe your child is home sick and you want to make sure the sitter isn't trying to reach you. By naming that, you are being authentic and present. "I just want to mention, I'm going to check my phone periodically since my little girl is home not feeling well".

05/ Notice how you FEEL around this person

Whether we're trying to check off boxes of "qualities of our perfect friend or mate",  worrying about if we're interesting enough or analyzing their every move and making assumptions about that (see above!) sometimes we can forget a basic and fundamental piece of being with someone...

 

"How does it feel to be in connection with them?"

Do you feel at ease?

Relaxed?

Stressed?

Paranoid?
Excited?

Engaged?

Annoyed?

While some things can be the result of I-don't-know-you-jitters, there is a significant value in just recognizing the quality of the connection of your .

Get out of your thoughts and get into your body (it's likely got something to tell you). And get this: our bodies won't lie to us but our minds frequently do. The tricky thing can be that the language our body speaks is MUCH quieter than our thoughts.

Learn to quiet your thoughts so your body's messages can take the center stage.

06/ Know what you want, then make choices that align with that

This might seem like an obvious one to some, but do your best to keep give your full attention with those you are with. 

 

One of the biggest culprits of distraction these days are our phones. When you're connecting with others, do your best to keep your hands off devices (unless of course you're checking calendars for future plans or sharing that hilarious video of the puppy falling in the toilet bowl).

Distractions can also include thinking about what you have going on after your time together. How present can you really be with them when your mind is on "crap, how am I going to handle this situation I have to tend to once I'm outta here?". When you notice your brain going in different directions, take the opportunity to refocus on those you are connecting with.

Be proactive in creating a distraction-free setting when you're connecting with others. This might include keeping your phone on silent, turning a background TV off, or moving to a more private location.

Side Note: If there are outside things that require your focus during your time together, be up front. Maybe your child is home sick and you want to make sure the sitter isn't trying to reach you. By naming that, you are being authentic and present. "I just want to mention, I'm going to check my phone periodically since my little girl is home not feeling well".

04/ Bring your full presence

This might seem like an obvious one to some, but do your best to keep give your full attention with those you are with. 

 

One of the biggest culprits of distraction these days are our phones. When you're connecting with others, do your best to keep your hands off devices (unless of course you're checking calendars for future plans or sharing that hilarious video of the puppy falling in the toilet bowl).

Distractions can also include thinking about what you have going on after your time together. How present can you really be with them when your mind is on "crap, how am I going to handle this situation I have to tend to once I'm outta here?". When you notice your brain going in different directions, take the opportunity to refocus on those you are connecting with.

Be proactive in creating a distraction-free setting when you're connecting with others. This might include keeping your phone on silent, turning a background TV off, or moving to a more private location.

Side Note: If there are outside things that require your focus during your time together, be up front. Maybe your child is home sick and you want to make sure the sitter isn't trying to reach you. By naming that, you are being authentic and present. "I just want to mention, I'm going to check my phone periodically since my little girl is home not feeling well".

Providing opportunities for more meaningful human connection.

© 2018-2021 by Let's Be Authentic, LLC.