Truly connecting on a human level can be hard in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Because, connection holds many meanings these days. I wanted to provide some ways to help people truly connect. To narrow the meaning of connection down, I typed “connection” into Google. The first thing that popped up was an ad for technology services.
That really says it all, doesn’t it? According to Google, the top 2 characteristics of “connection” are technology and selling technology.
The dictionary defines “connection” as “a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.”
According to the definition of connection it can relate to a person, thing, or idea. Like many things I suppose, connection will vary depending on what the agenda related to it is.
For old school me “connection” will always be between humans. The varying meanings of connection however does beg the question, how do we truly connect in the era of AI?
Cliche, I know. There is a warning with this one and a reality. If you haven’t already learned in life, you will. Not everyone will like you. AND that’s okay. If this article was titled, “How to Get Everyone to Like You,” it wouldn’t be written by me. If everyone likes you, you are definitely not being honest with yourself or others.
Being yourself enables you to truly connect with people that actually like you. You are not alone if being around a group of people exhausts you. This exhaustion is the aftermath of the energy it takes to pretend to be who you want other people to think you are.
Novel thought here, but Be Yourself and you will truly connect with those who you truly connect with.
I’m definitely guilty of this. Let’s say, you see someone who maybe makes you uncomfortable or just someone you don’t know. You want to spark up a conversation with them. You say, “I LOVE your dress.” When in reality you know that you wouldn’t be caught dead in it.
Your compliment may have started a conversation, but it’s not a building block to creating a true connection. On top of that, you can never go shopping together. Lol. I’m just playing. But, people will eventually catch on to when you are not being genuine.
Your best bet is to be honest and wait until you can really compliment them on something that you truly LOVE. Then you’ll have that to honestly connect on.
To build a deeper connection you do at some point have to move past surface level. Although, small talk gets a bad rap. There’s actually a lot of benefits to small talk. Psychology Today’s recent article, The Art (and Science) of Great Conversation, wants us to “think of small talk as foreplay synchronizing the level of intimacy.” Essentially, small talk helps you get your rhythm. This can set you and your rhythmic conversation partner on the perfect path towards a deeper connection.
Let’s think of small talk as the appetizer. At some point you’re going to want a full meal. If you keep it there, neither of you will ever be fully satisfied. Have a few apps, but don’t be afraid to jump into the main course. If it scares off a few people that’s okay, they weren’t meant for you.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and walked away asking what’s their name and what did we talk about? It’s not uncommon, especially when meeting someone new, to only listen for opportunities to speak. This isn’t even a selfish act as it’s often more anxiety about you and what you’re going to say than your disinterest in the other person.
To build a true connection though you do have to actually listen to what the other person is saying. If your goal is to truly connect, you’ll want to learn about the other person, ask questions and show understanding. You will also want to talk about yourself, but just remember to share the conversation.
When meeting someone new it can be hard to know their boundaries. Because of this, boundary lines can be easily crossed. It’s always a good idea to not go too deep into more serious topics like religion or politics. Even if you avoid these areas, there are plenty of areas that may not cross boundary lines for you, but will for someone else.
Pay attention to the other person’s body language. If they appear uncomfortable you could be crossing the line. Pulling back a little, especially when first getting to know someone, might be appreciated more than you know.
Once you build a true connection on respect they will likely be much more open and trusting. Eventually diving deep into more serious topics, wanting to build a relationship with you over similarities and differences.
Last, but definitely not least Stay in the Present. It can be comfortable to talk about a past that we shared with others. Although, to truly build a connection with someone who wasn’t involved in your past, you will want to focus more on the present.
Creating new memories with the person you are with will help you to move a new relationship into a deeper one. Every time you build a new memory with the person you are with in the moment, you have a starting point for the next conversation. This enables your relationship to continue to evolve.
It’s important to remember that no conversation is perfect, especially with someone you have just met. The person you are talking to is as much in their head as you are in yours. The best thing you can do for yourself and the other person is to be comfortable in the awkward moments.
Staying relaxed, maintaining eye contact and even staying silent can allow the awkwardness to dissipate and encourage the other person to keep the conversation going.
If you feel that you struggle to connect with others, you are not alone. Many people struggle with shyness, introversion and even social anxiety that can hinder them from connecting with others. Poor self-esteem or mental health issues may also play a role in this.
If you need a little extra support in this area Inherent Strength’s team of Coaching Therapists are ready to help.
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