We all know people who are able to connect with almost anyone and we all know people who seem to have few or superficial relationships. What are these people doing differently?
Why is it that some are able to attract and relate to so many, while others struggle to build strong relationships?
Before answering this question, let's first see why building close relationships actually changes everything.
Strong relationships are vital for your health, happiness and success.
Since 1938 (!), researchers from Harvard have been following in a Study 724 men, tracking their physical health as well as social habits.
Their conclusion? Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Socially disconnected people are less happy, their health declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely.
Really? Is it that simple? Yes, it is. Yet, we all know family disputes, couples that divorce, friends that grow apart or difficult work relationships. Simple doesn't mean easy. Clearly.
Human relationships are the key to our happiness and at the same time our biggest challenges.
Your capacity to connect also directly impacts your level of success. Whatever you do in life, you’re in contact with people. Whether that's customers, peers, investors, mentors or family. I'm not talking about Facebook or Linked In connections. I am talking about the real stuff, with the full range of (sometimes uncomfortable) emotions.
Really connecting means you're becoming memorable in the eyes of others.
Here are 6 ways to make great connections:
1. Start from a ‘giving perspective’.
The way you approach your relationships changes everything.
When you view connecting as a means to an end, people can feel or sense this miles away. Believe me. You will merely be in a transactional relationship. When you’re connecting from a genuine giving perspective without expecting something in return, people will certainly notice, and you'll see great things happening!
2. Be genuinely you
Don't try to be someone you're not. It may happen to all of us, mostly when we feel a bit uncomfortable. You act cool or smart or funny, because you're not sure how you're supposed to behave. So you're acting like someone you think you should be. It's difficult to connect with anyone from that position.
Be yourself. Vulnerable and open. Talk about your projects, things you care about. Share your stories and challenges. It's the best way to build trust.
3. Be curious.
Listen attentively and be present. As Scott Dinsmore puts it:
Ask great questions. Every person has something to tell and to teach if you look for it.
4. Look for common ground
Preferably in subjects that matter to you and the other person, and that you are excited about. Talking about the weather is not going to make you best friends.
By being open-minded, genuine and interested in others, you will find common ground if you look for it: places you travelled, music you like, books you've read,...
As you may know, you're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If you spend your days complaining at the coffee machine, you'll connect, but maybe not with the right people...
5. Make memories
To connect on another level, create and share special moments with others. It's all about the experience. It does not need to be a life threatening event or trip around the world. You can find these moments in small things: over coffee, a special dinner, a great laugh, a nice walk, a deep discussion with a glass of wine.
Your environment will impact your experience, but if you really want to, you can find a way to make it memorable.
6. Live a life of passion
When you have passions or things you deeply care about, people will love to listen. They'll be interested and feel inspired. Share your 'why' with the world. Why are you doing the things you do? This is great way for others to relate and connect.
Go regularly out of your comfort zone and try new things. It's the key to personal growth and will make great discussions. Have fun sharing what you did with others. Don't take yourself too seriously and laugh about all the things that didn't go as planned!
Who said the road to success and personal growth couldn't be a funny one? :-)
This stuff only works when you put it to work. Like any change, you've got to make it a new habit.
Make it a point to deliberately work on developing more close relationships.
It takes practice and often when tired we fall back to our old behaviors... But once you get the taste of it... You'll want to make it your new 'normal'.
Great video of the TED talk on the Harvard Study I mentionned:
Simon Sinek on why a clearly articulated why helps connecting with others: