As we emerge deeper and deeper into this technological era, our connections to others have ironically become much more shallow. We spend hours upon hours a day ever-so-lightly flicking our thumbs as we stare aimlessly at a small light glow in our hands. We do it everywhere without a second thought. And mindless scrolling has become so much more prevalent with a worldwide pandemic that keeps us apart.
It’s almost second nature now to pull out your phone, even just for a split second as the light turns red to indulge in that euphoric high of receiving a text message or a “like” on your most recent car selfie where the light was hitting your hair just right. We’re utterly and completely addicted to this feeling of constant connection to our friends, our family, and to the world. But what we miss by doing so are all the amazing connections that surround us daily in the real world.
Connecting with others is what we all innately want, but it’s too easy now to feel this fabricated sense of connection because you already know what everyone is doing. You see the vacations, the engagements, the baby announcements, the tattoos, the diets, the haircuts—you name it and someone has shared it on social media. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to stay connected with people, but it’s such a surface-level interaction. Don’t you want more?
There are ways to really build a deeper and stronger connection with people you already know and strangers alike. These little but powerful tactics will help you gain a better understanding of another person’s world, their struggles, and their achievements. It allows us to see people, not by how we perceive them but for who they truly are and everybody appreciates feeling heard and seen.
1. MEAN IT WHEN YOU ASK “HOW ARE YOU?”
We’re all guilty of cordially asking someone how they are as we briskly walk by without giving a damn what they actually have to say. I know, I know, I do it all the time. What if you stopped though and looked someone in the eye and asked them, and then stayed to hear their response and give them feedback on it?
You wouldn’t believe the expressions I’ve seen on people’s faces when I do this. It’s a mixture of shock and awe and in that moment you made that person feel important, and there really is no better feeling. So next time you ask that question, commit to it and genuinely listen. It’s so easy to get a, “Good, how are you?” and respond with, “I’m good” then carry on your way. If it’s going to be that superficial, you might as well just say “good morning” and call it a day.
2. ENGAGE WHEN SOMEONE ASKS “HOW ARE YOU?”
This exchange is clearly a two-way street, so in lieu of meaning it when you ask, try to answer with a little more thought as well. Sometimes things aren’t good, sometimes things are awful, and sometimes things are great, so why not just say how you are? Real talk.
I’m not saying to get into a major bitch fit about your ex-boyfriend or your crazy cat-loving roommate (we obviously know what’s bothering me), but if something worth sharing happened, SHARE IT! Give this person the opportunity to get to know you, I mean, they asked, right? And now that you’ve opened the door for a real conversation, you can make a real connection.
3. SHARE YOUR IMPERFECTIONS
Being real with someone is purely that. Not a single damn person is perfect, and if you think they are, then you hardly know them. Many of us live life trying to be our best, and you shouldn’t do it any other way, but what about those times when our best didn’t cut it? When we were pushed down and had to fight and crawl our way back up? When we didn’t meet the deadline. When the chicken was dry. When our hearts were broken. When we made 26 drunken phone calls to our ex (not that I did that).
The more we share our faults and our imperfections with each other, the more we realize that we’re all the same. We’re all learning and growing daily and just trying to be better than the person we were the day before. People naturally gravitate towards those who are open and honest about all their downfalls because they’re authentic. You can’t help but feel closer and more connected to the person that just gets you because they’ve been there too and have no shame in telling you.
4. ASK FOR HELP
Studies have proven that doing a favor for someone brings more gratification than having someone do a favor for you. If there’s someone new in your life, whether it be a work associate or a new friend, ask that person for help. It doesn’t have to be big, I actually would suggest it be something very small. Maybe just asking their advice on a situation or getting their input on something you know that is important to them.
I’m aware that everything you want to know can be Googled and anything you need done can be paid for, but taking that time to ask someone really shows that you respect their opinion and you’re vulnerable enough to ask for it. Once again, making people feel important draws them closer to you. Who doesn’t like feeling helpful, needed, and appreciated?
5. STOP ASKING WHAT AND START ASKING WHY
Now, here’s the big kicker… we spend too much time asking “what” questions, but the juice lies in the “why” questions. Knowing what someone does for a living can only give you a surface look into who they are, barely, but knowing why they do it can give a whole new perspective into a deeper layer of who that person really is.
You can apply this concept to any of your burning questions, big or small. When people discuss favorite movies or favorite books, getting the title out is where the conversation typically ends. Push for that why and you’ll notice a lot of people don’t know why, and for once someone is forcing them to actually think about it. Or they do know why and someone actually cares enough to ask. You will always be remembered if you ask people the questions they’ve never been asked, and these questions provoke so much thought that I guarantee it will build a stronger bond between you and that person.