Are we losing the ability to connect when we are in face-to-face situations? Are we turning up distracted, thinking about everyone and everything else except the person sitting across the table from us? From my experience in life, I would say a resounding yes.
Perhaps being able to deeply connect is a lost art. I really don't think so, because we all know how wonderful it feels to have a deeply connected and engaged conversation with another human being. It's just that we always seem to be too busy, too connected and too distracted with everything else. Such a wasted opportunity.
I'm a passionate communicator. I love being one on one and I take great pride in being a very good communicator. My aim is always to make the person I am meeting with feel like the only person that matters right here right now. And to me they are.
When you connect with people like this, you build real relationships, whether it be a business meeting or a personal catch up. Two keys considerations to make this work are the need to be absolutely sincere in every interaction and to be genuinely interested in the other person.
How do we create that deep kind of connection with people when face-to-face? Here are 13 techniques that I have used for many years:
1. Really connect with your eyes, but don't stare or be too intense. Remember to blink and look away at appropriate times.
2. Smile and show you are hearing what they are saying.
3. Listen, which means being fully attentive, not semi attentive. We know immediately when someone stops listening to us, so don't think you can fool them and check your email on your phone when you are supposed to be listening to them.
4. Speaking of phones, have all distractions put away. Show them you are fully committed to listening to what they have to say.
5. Nod your head - this shows you are encouraging them to keep talking and sharing.
6. Don't interrupt them. Let the other person keep talking, even if you want to stop them. If you interrupt too often, they will expect it and they may stop communicating.
7. Let the other person choose the pace of the conversation, even if it is going slow and you feel a little frustrated.
8. Keep it about them, even if they try to make it about you. This means gently steering the conversation back to them when they try to push it to you.
9. Don't sigh. Even though it can be an innocent reaction from the body calling for more oxygen, it can come across as you being bored. Watch your breathing, be aware of it.
10. Be sincerely interested in them.
11. Summarize what they had to say and use a nice, affirming line like "have I heard you correctly when you say..........". This gives them a chance to correct anything that you might have got wrong, but if you have got it right, it shows that you really did listen.
12. Remember to thank them for being so open and direct. It is a big deal for a lot of people, nice to be acknowledged for communicating so openly.
13. Make the effort to remember details, so that when you meet again, you prove that you were actually listening