Making Authentic Connections

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Once strangers, now friends… a few things to remember when you want to forge a more real relationship.

This weekend, I overheard a woman speaking on the phone that hit my heart like a ton of bricks — as “connected” as she may be, she has never felt more lonely. “I have hundreds of acquaintances but not one friend I could call if I were in trouble,” she sadly stated over the phone. “I see photos of babies being born year after year, and birthday celebrations with families, but I don’t know the woman sitting next to me on the train. I tell myself I am connected, but I’ve never felt more disconnected.”

Holy shit, she’s right, I thought. Our addiction to social ‘connectedness’ has completely altered the true meaning of the word. As we share our lives on social media and connect with others, we sometimes forget what true human connectedness actually is. Life is hard. Life is beautiful. It is messy and it is raw. And sometimes it just sucks. But more often than not, we don’t share our authentic and real side with others. Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s shyness. But maybe it’s just because, sometimes, we don’t know how. It got me thinking of what an authentic connection is and how we can have more with the hundreds of strangers who cross our paths every day.

Be a listener first. Have you ever tried telling a story to someone who seemed distracted or uninterested? It’s terrible! Don’t be that person. Listen to them with every fiber of your being. If you become distracted, refocus.

Show grace. Every person you see today has an untold story. Every one is fighting their own battle. EV-ER-Y person. Grant them patience and grace just as you wish they would you.

Don’t fear vulnerability.  Being open and vulnerable is scary, I know. Actually, I really know — I am quite avoidant and introverted. But there is beauty in connecting with someone over shared openness. As a new student to vulnerability, I can guarantee it will pay off.

Ask sincere questions. As you intently listen to others, hopefully you will cross into a world called curiosity. It’s ok to ask them questions.

Empathy is a strength. Show compassion. Be understanding and warm. And, friends, do not judge.

+Do you feel passionate about this topic, too? What would you add to the list?

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Comments

  1. If you’re shy and especially introverted (such as myself) a smile and genuine compliment go a long way and make people feel comfortable and more likely to open up. Also, ask questions no one thinks to ask. Curiosity gets the best of cats and the rest of us creatures.

  2. Don’t take going out in the real world for granted. Everybody is trying so hard to justify their time spent on social media. Lots of arguments to say that connection on social media is still connection. Yes it is a type of connection (beneficial even in some cases) but in trying so hard to justify social media the real world is forgotten. I have a health problem at the minute that stops me from going out as much as I used to and I really miss it. If I am honest I probably took going out for granted and did not always make the most of my freedom when I could. If I get my health issues under control and start getting back out, I will not be taking it for granted again :)

  3. Also after meeting someone in person at a networking or some kind of group event – I send either a FB message or text – and I say it was nice to meet them. Then they answer back usually and we have started a shared exchange.

  4. Make a phone call to a old friend that you have not talked to for a long time and be interested in what has been going on in their life. Really listen!, show them you still care. Just start by saying “Hi, This is M, I have been thinking about you. How are YOU?
    Hopefully that will get the conversation started. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and remember to listen with an open heart.
    You might be supurised how much fun it is to talk to an old friend… And how good it makes you feel!
    After writing this, I think I will follow my own advise and call an old friend myself…THANK YOU … And don’t be afraid to make plans to see each other… Old friendships are worth everything!

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