The Best Ways to Build Meaningful Connections and Improve Relationships
The Best, 1/29/18
The Best is our daily compilation of cool stuff we’ve found IRL and around the web. Every day we will share what we are reading, watching, listening to, doing, or pondering. If you have suggestions for what we should include in future segments, let us know in the comments below!
Yesterday, I grabbed coffee with a friend I hadn’t spoken to in about a year. This long time without interaction occurred for a number of reasons — life, work, family, etc — but ultimately began because we had what one could call a ‘falling out’.
Reflecting on the past year and the events leading up to the end of our friendship, it became very clear that the main cause of our disagreements was a lack of communication, openness, and genuine connection.
Coincidentally, the day prior to our meet up, I attended an event that focused on building relationships, understanding others, expressing empathy, and creating lasting connections.
Through these two recent experiences, I’ve realized many things about interaction, communication, and connection, but here are the 3 key takeaways:
- Stop seeking ‘give and take’. Instead, give, give, give, and give some more. Don’t expect anything in return.
- To listen requires so much more than just your ears. Engage your heart and mind when others talk* to you. Don’t just listen to respond, listen to understand and empathize. (*talking isn’t always verbal)
- It’s incredibly important to be honest with yourself. You can’t open up to connection with others if you are unwilling to be open with yourself.
Between Man and Man by Martin Buber
“Just as the most eager speaking at one another does not make a conversation, so for a conversation no sound is necessary, not even a gesture. Speech can renounce all the media of sense, and it is still speech.
…The life of dialogue is not limited to men’s traffic with one another; it is, it has shown itself to be, a relation of men to one another that is only represented in their traffic.
Accordingly, even if speech and communication may be dispensed with, the life of dialogue, seems, from what we may perceive, to have inextricably joined to it as its minimum constitution one thing, the mutuality of the inner action.”
Go make real connections! (Much easier said than done, right?)
When you very familiar with someone — like a friend, family member, or significant other — it can be surprisingly difficult to practice engaged listening and empathy. You ‘know’ them, you ‘know’ their story, and you ‘know’ how they feel.
Like how you practice a sport before playing in a real game, I’ve found that it is much easier to practice better communication by interacting with people you don’t know at all.
Connecting with strangers is a great way to start fine-tuning your communication and listening skills. Then, you can bring what you learned back to the home or office.
Our DIY challenge today is a pretty modest one: Talk to a new stranger every week of February. Don’t just chit-chat, but truly connect. Really listen to what they have to say and try your best to really understand where they are coming from.
Want more of a challenge? Connect with a new stranger every day of February. :)
Let us know how it goes!
Questions, thoughts, suggestions? Holla at us in the comments below, or hit us up on Twitter at @TheMissionHQ, with the #TheBest and we’ll try to help!
That’s it for today’s edition of The Best. We’ll be back tomorrow with more great content like this!