“Man is, by nature, a social animal.” — Aristotle
I agree with the first adjective and disagree with the second. Man is a sentient being, different from all animals. That is for another post, another day, but we are now going to discuss being social in this post.
As a human being, it is innate to your existence to understand and be understood by others. Your natural propensity is to have fulfilling relationships with other human beings and for that reason, you are naturally programmed to create connections. However, the tradition and culture have spoon-fed you the unwholesome ideas of privacy, individualism, competition, the survival of the fittest, etc. As a result, most of your relations are superficial, lacking emotion or deep connection.
Problems like social phobia (a social anxiety disorder) exist because a genuine connection among human beings is missing.
The conversation problem…
Society via culture and education teaches you language and etiquettes. But, it doesn’t teach you how to establish a connection. Thus, your conversations tend to be formal, robotic, lacking a human connection.
You find yourself having a good conversation only once in a blue moon. It gives you an emotional release that comforts you but the unexpected feeling of connection leaves you craving for more. It is like solving a Rubik’s Cube by accident and realizing you don’t know how to do it again. To establish a deep connection with others, you talk, you listen, you do everything you know still the sense of connection eludes you. This is because you are preparing to establish a connection through dialogue…you are only preparing to have a talk!
The good news is that everything about your relationships with others is entirely in your control. With some efforts and clarity, you can turn superficial connections into genuine relationships.
Here are some tips to connecting with others at the human level:
- Be Truthful – Everyone feels good in the company of honest people. When you are humble, genuine, and truthful, it makes other people open up and connect with you at human level. Being true to yourself makes it easy for you to understand other human beings and the process of connecting becomes possible. You see reality as it is instead of the garb of etiquettes, false impressions, or pretentiousness.
- Tell your Feelings- Feelings are conduits to a deeper connection. Explain your feelings to get them into other people’s minds. As a rule, never skirt the intense emotions. Embrace your vulnerabilities instead of fearing them. Be emotionally available and expect people to talk to you with an open heart and mind.
- Be an Active Communicator – Instead of listening to the conversation passively, be part of the dialogue, and drive it. If the conversation is headed for superficiality, drive it towards authenticity. Get involved in the story and make sure it turns out to be productive for everyone.
- Don’t Judge– Everyone wants to be heard, understood, validated, and not being judged for their feelings. This fear of being judged stops people from opening up. So never judge others, instead try to understand more and sympathize with everyone.
- Listen, Pay attention, Understand, and Validate- These four rules will give a life to all your conversations. Listen to people you want to establish a connection with. Pay attention to what they are saying and understand with the intention to participate and offer insight or help. At last, validate your relationship with other people existentially by realizing that human beings have evolved to live collectively and no human being can live in individuality.
Do all this and people will be naturally drawn to you. As you learn to embrace diversity, develop compassion, and establish meaningful conversations, you’ll be able to connect with everyone you talk to.
We are all a connected world at a frequency that science is yet to fathom. But it is there and your feeling is validation enough for you till a scientist makes a machine and gives you the readings.