Friday, 11 October 2013

10 Ingredients for Building a Deep Connection

     If you had a good 10 minutes with someone, what determines whether you'll "click" and whether you'll walk away and never see each other again?

     That's a tough question isn't?

      It's difficult to decipher how we've interacted in the past to strangers. Most of us don't even remember how we've initially met the close friends we have. We can try our best to put ourselves in an observer position and to replay those moments, but we can never be void of bias. Ever thought of those little nonverbal things we do? Those little gestures that come naturally and automatically which make the biggest difference. But let's be honest with ourselves for a second, there's no surefire "recipe" or "ingredients" to establish a connection with someone. What we can do is ensure that our actions match our intentions as much as possible. But even in our best intentions we may sometimes never build a connection with someone. Ultimately, the will to connect must be mutual. 

       On another note, it might help to first read "10 Signs You Love Someone for the Sake of Allah".

      Ever been to a therapist? Let's borrow some of their techniques to building rapport with strangers shall we?

     Here are a few tips to building a sincere connection:

1) Skip superficial topics and routine introductions:

     Most of us are not intrigued or more interested in someone who asks routine questions. "Hi""How are you?" "I'm fine thank you" "what do you do?" "my name is ___". You could be a vibrant and spontaneous personality, but these types of conversations restrict you from expressing your true self. Those lame introductions are not unavoidable. You will not need to introduce yourself with your name and your occupation if you intrigue the other enough to ask you for it themselves. Formality has a way of tainting relationships. Once a formal relationship gets labelled as so, it is often very difficult to rework the impression into a more flexible and comfortable one. It's probably a good idea to let the conversation flow flexibly according to the particular situation. It may be helpful to keep the environment around you in mind as well, because it comes with it's own conversation starters. Some conversations can be superficial while others can leave you feeling like a new person. What the difference then? A conversation doesn't have to be serious to be deep. But anything said with a bigger purpose in mind is enough to keep interest and spark a connection because it communicates something about your values and way of perceiving the world.

2) Be authentic: 

    You can nod and mhhm all you like, but if it's not genuine, your eyes will expose your true bored and uninterested self. Try not to stare too long even if you are genuine about it. You are not obligated to put in excessive effort into this new relationship. So listen and let your body language tell them you're interested in what they have to say, just don't over do it. I know this sounds lame, but you don't have to agree with everything they say, just be yourself and you'll build a truer and longer lasting connection that way.

3) Embrace silence:

      You can emulate a deep connection by getting comfortable in the silence. Trying to fill in that time with constant talk might give off an insecure vibe. It also shows that you may be trying to hide your true self or that you're trying extra hard to accommodate for them. Let the pauses come naturally and be in tune with the person you're talking to. 

4) Avoid talking about yourself the first time you meet:

     It's easy to get caught up in talking about what we do for a living or what we study when we meet someone for the first time. But, even if they ask for it, try not to dwell on topics surrounding you. Healthy relationships include communication that is always a mutual give-and-take. Talking about yourself will label you as the high maintenance buddy that requires a lot of attention and admiration from others.

5) Use mirroring: 

     Mirror the person you are speaking to. That doesn't mean to become them. But it's an old trick psychology swear by. Mirroring a person's body language gives off a mutual energy that is natural to the party being mirrored. A person who is crossing their legs with their hands close to their body may not feel as deep of a connection with a confident other who sits comfortably with their arms stretched out on the chair beside them and their legs pointing forward. A similar concept to mirroring is also verbal reflections of feeling through paraphrasing.  Psychologists are famous for rewording words and re-projecting feeling from their clients to build rapport and make the client feel understood. Phrases such as "that sounds like that was a tough thing for you" and "so from what I'm getting, it looks like it was a breakthrough for you to see your mother react that way." The more detailed, the better. The good thing about this approach is that you're never being patronizing by trying to give advice or to change their beliefs. You're just showing your understanding.

6) Ask questions:

    The famous "how did you feel?" question does more than you'd think. Questions show your interest and they express that you're willing to listen further to them. Avoid superficial question though. Make them thought provoking.

7) Give it time: 

      There's no pressure. We are all unique individuals who have different approaches to building relationships with others. Some of us have learned to mistrust on default when we meet new people due to our terrible experiences in the past. So let it be and don't make it about you if they don't respond in ways you can predict. 

8) Accept their advancements:

     Meaningful connections require the work of two - and the disclosure and acceptance of two. Deep connections do not arise from a completely selfless way of thinking. We feel valued when we are needed, and if we are not needed we usually find no meaning in investing time and energy into what doesn't require our presence. We must face the fact that we cannot live independently without the help and support of others. When we don't find it within ourselves to accept the advancements of others, we indirectly give off the impression that we can do without them. So go ahead and accept those gifts and compliments and be easy on the thank yous. Thanking people too much gives off the impression that we expect little from the relationship, which doesn't translate into a deep connection. Feel free to disclose about your life and to ask directly for their advice.     

9) Have high expectations of who they are but not of what they'll offer:

      We tend to seek affiliation and connection with those who we feel can bring some value into our lives. Whether that be in the form of wisdom, humor or spiritualism, most meaningful relationships are derived from a reciprocal exchange of value which we invest a great deal of time, energy and attention into. However, oftentimes we choose not to invest in others because of our perceived value of their ability to add to our lives. Having high expectations of others as unique individuals with multiple dimensions to their personality keeps us open minded to making new and deep connections. Be careful not to get caught up in expectation. Having expectations of who they are doesn't mean that you should wait for them to offer you something. It's just a way of opening up our perspective of others in order to diminish any bias we hold within our perceptions.

10) Embrace their uniqueness: 

   Our friends and acquaintances who can recall minor details in previous conversation with regards to our lives give us a sense of being understood. Take extra care in remembering some of those details that others usually dismiss and let it be known to the other of your knowledge of them. We tend to recall things of which we find significant and relevant to our lives and if you point out what the other finds important, they feel instantly connected to you. It is also a powerful tip for establishing a special bond which embraces the uniqueness of the other. And always mention them by name. It works.

What are some other tips for building rapport with others? Share your tips below.

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