A lot of people feel alone. They feel like they don't have a connection to those around them. I know how that feels. When I was younger I spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals, I didn't get a whole lot of practice socializing with people my own age.
Spending most of my time with doctors, nurses and my mom made me feel alienated when it came time to engage with others at my school.
But there was an upside.
Doctors and nurses are some of the most caring people you will ever meet. They are intelligent, polite and empathetic. Every time I was in their care I felt appreciated and important. They were family to me.
I've wondered what made my connection with these people so deep and profound. I can still picture the faces and emotions associated with so many of the beautiful people I met at different hospitals.
Here are three conversational habits I internalized that helped me foster a deep connection with those around me.
Make eye contact and listen intently.
My doctor would walk into the room and greet my mother. He would then make his way over to me, bend down to my eye level, look me right in the eyes and give me a firm handshake.
The entire time we talked he would keep eye contact with me. I felt like he absorbed every single word I said. His focus never drifted from me, it made me feel like I mattered.
Too often we have conversations that we aren't fully invested in. When someone is talking we take that as an opportunity to think about what we are going to say next instead of paying attention to what the other person is saying.
"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. -Stephen R. Covey
Worse yet, we might take the chance to check our phones, think about our day and zone out the other person completely.
Don't waste the time talking to someone if you aren't going to listen as well.
Cater the conversation to the other person.
The nurses and doctors would always ask about me.
"How are you feeling? How was your day? What are you thinking about?"
We all know that one person who will tell the same story to everyone they see in a given day and make every conversation about themselves. Maybe they bought a new phone and now they'll show it to everyone. Maybe they didn't get a lot of sleep and now that will be their topic of the day.
They somehow seem to direct every conversation to themselves.
Guess what. Not only is this terribly self important, but it's also boring. Do you really want to have the same conversation about your new phone ten times in one day?
When you start wondering how other people are and what is going through their mind, you get a lot more out of your conversations. More variety, more connection, more perspectives.
If you have something nice to say, say it!
My mom would always tell me "Steven, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
That is fine and dandy, I can agree with that.
But that isn't my main concern. In this day and age compliments are rare. I hear friends tell me "Wow, that girl has nice eyes." but they never actually tell the girl.
What if that compliment would have made her day?
She might be having a horrible morning. She might be feeling down in the dumps after a bad break up. One compliment can change a persons entire mood.
I live my life by the motto "If you have something nice to say, say it!" I want to point out every single piece of good that I see in the people around me.
When you give someone a compliment they like you more, and their connection with you deepens. A compliment may not change their life, but it might change their life for that moment. Isn't that good enough?
So, I hope that these tips will help you foster a deeper connection with everyone around you. It is one of the most noble goals you can pursue.
I'll never get to thank the people I met that have made such a deep impact on me, but I hope to leave the same impact on those around me.
As always, I'll see you next Friday.
With love, Steven Farquharson, 2HelpfulGuys