Building strong relationships and connecting with others is critical in today’s world. According to top mental health services, good partnerships foster deep feelings of connection, authenticity, empathy, compassion and an overall sense of happiness and well-being.
But forming new friendships can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are a few easy-to-learn skills that can help you forge more meaningful connections with others.
1. Be Present
One of the most effective ways to build strong relationships and connect with others is to be present. Being in the moment offers many benefits, including feeling more joy and satisfaction in life, developing greater resourcefulness, and increasing your ability to cope with stressors.
It’s important to keep your mind from wandering into the past or future during everyday activities like putting the kids to bed, having a conversation with your spouse, or attending a staff meeting. Instead, try to focus on what’s happening in the moment, bringing your attention to the sensations and sights of each activity.
Another way to stay present is to be mindful of your body language and facial expressions. This will allow you to connect with others on a deeper level and show that you care about what they are saying.
The next time you’re with a friend or coworker, take the opportunity to make eye contact. This will help the other person feel that you’re interested in what they have to say and make them feel more comfortable talking to you.
2. Find Commonalities
Whether it’s a first date or your best friend, finding commonalities can make a big difference in how well you connect with others. These connections go beyond small talk and help you build strong relationships that last.
One way to find commonalities is to be curious about what people are saying and ask questions. This shows you are genuinely interested in them, which is the first step to making friends.
This is especially important when you meet people that seem totally different from you. This is because they may have a very different life experience, upbringing, or worldview.
Another way to discover commonalities is by asking questions that can reveal things about the other person that you’ve never thought about before. This could include questions like, “Where did you go to school?” or “What were your majors?”
Using these techniques can also help you break down ideological echo chambers. These are groups of people who share similar political views, which can be a barrier to friendships.
3. Be Generous
One of the most powerful ways to build strong relationships and connect with others is through generosity. Generosity is a quality that can be practiced by anyone, regardless of social status or cultural background.
Studies have found that those who give generously are more likely to be happy and satisfied with their lives. They also tend to have more close relationships with others.
The most generous people spend their time and energy on a cause or goal that is important to them. Whether that’s helping a friend or family member who is struggling or donating to a charity, they are energized and revitalized by their work.
Another way to be generous is to share your talents and skills. For example, if you have a talent for painting, you might consider volunteering to teach a class at a community center that could use the skill.
If you’re looking for a tangible way to feel the benefits of generosity, look around your neighborhood and find an organization or cause that needs support. Many organizations are in need of volunteers, donations, and other forms of financial support. This is a great way to put the power of your money, influence, and resources to good use.
4. Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is an important part of communication and can be a powerful tool in building strong relationships. It communicates attraction and confidence, and can help people feel comfortable around you.
Research shows that looking directly at someone can make you appear more attractive, and that holding their gaze can deepen the connection even further. It also communicates focus, attention, and intentionality.
It can also make people more receptive to your ideas and actions, especially when they’re not familiar with you or haven’t met you before. This can be useful when you’re trying to make a sale or convincing someone to do something that they agree with you on, such as completing a task or committing to a meeting.
When making eye contact, it’s important to hold the other person’s gaze for a few seconds before you look away. That way, they’ll know you’re interested in what they’re saying and won’t have to worry about being ignored or rejected.
The key is to be consistent, and to practice with others to build a strong foundation for your new skills. Start with your family and friends, and then work up to co-workers, strangers on the street, and anyone else you encounter on a regular basis.
5. Ask Questions
Questions are one of the most powerful tools for fostering connection. They help you understand others, get them to open up and build relationships with them.
A question can be a simple, straightforward statement that gets the other person to share their thoughts or feelings. Or, they can be a deeper, more complex inquiry.
Asking a question can be nerve-wracking, but it’s also essential for getting to know someone better. It can make working with them easier, happier and lead to long-lasting relationships.
Research conducted by social psychologist Alison Greenfield shows that asking questions can influence how well people like each other. She found that participants in a conversation were more likely to like the person who asked questions than the one who answered them.
To get the most out of your conversations, you need to be sure that the questions you ask are relevant. Otherwise, they can become boring and confusing for the other person.
The order you ask your questions can also have a significant impact on how your conversations unfold. Researchers have found that starting with highly sensitive inquiries and escalating slowly makes people more willing to share their most private thoughts.
6. Be Honest
Honesty is one of the most fundamental characteristics of healthy relationships. It allows you to know what’s going on with your partner and prevents misunderstandings from happening in the first place.
It also shows that you care about your partner and want them to be happy in their relationship with you. Keeping secrets from your partner can make it hard for you to understand them and build a strong bond with them.
Ultimately, honesty is the key to building strong relationships and connecting with others. It can help you create a bond of trust and mutual respect with your friends, colleagues, and loved ones.
Being honest is especially important with your spouse if you want to keep your marriage together for the long haul. You need to be able to tell your partner everything about you and your life, without fear that they’ll lose their trust or feel like you’re not trustworthy enough to stay in the relationship.
Being truthful can be a challenge, but it’s well worth it for the benefits it will provide in your relationships. It will help you develop a stronger connection with your partner and build a solid foundation for your future together.
7. Look for Common Ground
One of the most powerful tools in building strong relationships and connecting with others is finding common ground. Whether it’s during a negotiation, during a conflict, or simply when you’re talking to a stranger, looking for areas of agreement can help you find points of connection.
Common ground can be difficult to find in a polarized world, but it’s worth it in the long run. It can help you get to know people better, make your relationships stronger, and even disrupt ideological echo chambers.
A common ground can be something small like two people liking the same coffee at a cafe or similar interests. It can also be something larger, like a mutual appreciation for the same sports team or similar music preferences.
In a business context, finding common ground can be a valuable way to build strong relationships with your customers and clients. It can also help you better understand their needs and concerns so that you can offer them a product or service that meets those needs.
While you may be able to find common ground during a negotiation, it’s important to realize that this won’t always lead to an agreement. It’s more of a tool to help you find ways to resolve conflict.