Mental Health Moment: How to Create Social Connection Through Conversation

13

Nancy Bergeron | [email protected]

We all long to be heard and create lasting and interesting connections. Keep in mind when practicing these conversation strategies, we should always remain conscious of the other person’s mood and comfort level. Be prepared to step back when our conversational connections are not welcome. However, with a little tact, sensitivity, and a genuine interest in the people around us, we may often find that greater social connection is easily within our reach.

Here are six strategies to try implementing in your conversations for connection:

Be Curious – asking others questions about themselves, ups our likeability. We enjoy talking about ourselves, but we underestimate the benefits of letting others do the same – to the detriment of our relationships. Take the time to build on the first question asked rather than jumping from topic to topic. Ask for further clarification for deeper meaning and understanding.

Be Empathetic – but don’t assume to really know how it felt for them because we may fail to differentiate between someone’s experience versus a similar experience of our own. Validate the speaker’s feelings – wow, that sounds like it must have been scary.

Find Common Ground – find a topic that will be something that links us and helps build further rapport. Even though we may want to share something new and exciting, it may be completely uninteresting to the person we are sharing with. Common ground deepens connection.

Use Emotional Intelligence – don’t always go for mundane small talk. Ask deeper questions to create a real connection. This sends the message that we really care and have an interest in hearing their answers. It may surprise you how open individuals can be when we show a real curiosity on a deeper level than what do you do for work or how about that hockey game last night.

Choose Honesty – it goes without saying that honesty is best served with a healthy dose of diplomacy. We should think carefully about the timing of our comments, the way they are phrased and whether the person will have the opportunity to make use of the information. However, honest communication proves to be far more constructive than people tend to predict, and the benefits of candid disclosure on overall wellbeing can last beyond the actual conversation.

Listen to Understand – this is the way to tie up the entire encounter. Summarize or reflect back on what you heard the person tell you. Unfortunately, we have the tendency when we are listening, to be thinking about what we will say next instead of truly hearing the speaker. If we have to listen to summarize what they are telling us, we are more likely to listen on a deeper level and thus the speaker will really feel heard. This will create not only likeability, but connection.

All the above will take practice. Some of us are better with these skills than others. If we are longing for more connection, and deeper relationships this is a fine roadmap to get us there.