How to Connect with People in a Meaningful Way

Mother’s Day is a special day for many; however, during a time of social distancing, the day’s uniqueness takes on a whole new level. Many of us have to connect in a way that honors the shelter at home and social distancing recommendations. During this time, we need to be creative in how we connect with our loved ones – and for some, a gift or card won’t cut it. Do you know how to connect with people in a meaningful way?

Why is it Important to Connect with Others?

Many of us have experienced the adverse effects that fear, anxiety, and isolation can have. For most, reaching out to a family member, support group, or friend helps immensely. However, the benefits are enhanced when in the presence of another, and sometimes not as genuine when done virtually.

But, our current reality presents a limited scenario for connecting in person. We all personally have a much better understanding of the harmful toll isolation can take as social distancing carries on. Today almost everyone is feeling it. Knowing how to connect with people is more important than ever!

Genuinely connecting with others is good for our emotional and physical health. Social connection strengthens our immune system, lowers rates of anxiety and depression, improves self-esteem, and improves our ability to collaborate with others. And the more you can connect with others, the more others are willing to genuinely connect with you, creating a positive loop of well-being.

Conversely, a negative loop is generated for those who lack social connectedness or are unable to be themselves genuinely. The more fake or manipulative one is, the fewer others want to be genuine or honest with them, which creates the environment for more antisocial behavior and isolation. Social connection is essential, and something we all should be working towards.

What Does Connecting with Others Mean?

The sense of connection comes from being open and available to another person and feeling understood and valued. It requires trust, empathy, and compassion. Connecting with others doesn’t come from what you say or do but from shared energy between you two.

According to Brene Brown, professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and specialist on social connection, “a deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

Having a sense of connection with someone isn’t measured by something tangible, but rather by an internal feeling. However, to connect with someone, you have to be willing and open – you may have to make the first move. Here are some ways to foster that openness and become comfortable with the connection.

How to Connect with People in a Meaningful Way

1) Be present and in the moment.

When you are connecting with someone, you are genuinely listening to them, empathizing with what they are saying, and working towards understanding their perspective. You are not thinking about what went wrong in the past or worrying about the future. You are sharing a moment, a moment in the present, to be exact.

2) Be your authentic self.

Have you ever had a moment during a conversation when you realized the person you were talking to was not being genuine? As that realization occurs, you instantly become guarded. You can’t have a real human connection if you or the person you’re talking to aren’t being themselves. Human connection requires vulnerability to be honest and genuine.

3) Feel safe to be open, whether you are happy or not.

Connect with others overall feels good, but it may not at the moment. There are opportunities to connect with others during arguments or when feeling sad or emotionally overwhelmed. These moments sure don’t feel good, but over time, the cumulative effect of being heard and understand, even in difficult moments, feels good. Sharing trust with another during a sad or charged experience is a reliable way to connect.

4) Have empathy and kindness towards the other person.

Few things destroy the connection quicker than judgment and criticism. Connectedness has a foundational level of kindness and love that shines through, even if it is mixed with frustration or anger. Once you cross over into just plain old meanness, connection shuts down, leaving a hollowed, emptiness behind.

5) It all centers around trust.

Connection with others is built on the ability to trust the other person and allow the space for you to be you. This also means you the ability to give to a person you’re talking to, the space to be themselves as well.

Connecting with others isn’t always the easiest, especially if you don’t feel open to the opportunity. Wholistic Care can help you develop confidence in yourself and help you learn how to connect with people better. Contact us at (630) 423-5932 to schedule an appointment in our Glen Ellyn office or virtually from the comfort of your home.

Jean Tschampa, PharmD, LCPC, CADC, C-IAYT, BCC

Jean Tschampa is owner and principal therapist at Wholistic Care  She specializes in wellness, life transition, anxiety, and addiction treatment, and is a Board Certified Coach, as well as professional counselor.  As a registered pharmacist, Jean can also provide medication therapy management for those experiencing issues with medication.