Feeling connected to others is a crucial part of living a fulfilling life. We need others to share our experiences with — to feel seen, heard and appreciated. More importantly, we need these connections to be strong and authentic.
It’s not about how many connections you have, but rather, whether those connections are meaningful – whether they add value to your life. Finding these kinds of connections isn’t always easy.
Sometimes, it isn’t about ‘finding’ the right connections, but working on ones you might have already. Either way, here are five things you can do to start building authentic connections with others:
Be yourself. Firstly, be honest with them – don’t pretend to be someone you are not. If you are real with them, and they accept you for who you are, your connection is going to mean way more. Secondly, be honest with yourself. In other words, if you find that despite all your efforts you still can’t connect with them, move on. Maybe you’re not the best match for each other. That’s okay. There are plenty more people out there that you can connect with.
Get into the right spaces. Find the places and spaces that you feel comfortable in and where you are likely to meet people you have common interests with. Having a common interest with someone is a brilliant foundation to building a long-lasting connection. So, if you play the Hungarian folk violin, find other people who play the Hungarian folk violin.
Be vulnerable. This doesn’t mean you have to share your deepest, darkest secrets with every person you meet. Being vulnerable simply means sharing how you truly think and feel, with people you trust. When you are vulnerable with someone, you are giving them the chance to relate to you in a real way. When you’re open with them, they feel safe to be open with you, and this shared vulnerability only strengthens your bond.
Be patient. You might not feel connected to someone straight away. That’s okay. Don’t force it. Building a connection can take a long time. In fact, research shows it takes 200+ hours to become close with someone (and that’s if you see them regularly). Getting close might be something you have to work on for a while.
Be Present. Message first, see them regularly and listen. Building meaningful connections requires continual work. If you want to connect with someone you have to put in the hard yards. As scary as it is, message them first to make plans, make plans regularly, and when you do see them listen to what they have to say – make them feel like they have your undivided attention. It goes a long way.