Build Deeper Connections With People With These 5 Tips11 min read

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Without connection with others, we wither away, like a branch cut from the trunk.

It’s not just a poetic or sentimental statement. Numerous studies and psychological theories show that having social support and feeling connected provides significant health benefits. 

For example, feeling connected can help maintain a healthy weight, control blood sugar levels, improve cancer survival rates, reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease depression and PTSD symptoms, and boost overall mental health. On the flip side, social isolation/loneliness has negative impacts on health, increasing depression and mortality risk.

But, beyond health benefits, building deep connections with people also makes us happier, builds trust, and creates resilience in our communities. And, those go on to foster a supportive and healthy society in which everyone can flourish in. 

So, What Does It Mean To Connect With Someone?

Connecting with someone transcends merely knowing superficial details about them or having their contacts. It’s about dissolving the line between you and them, so that their emotions and thoughts become an integral part of your consciousness, and their actions become well-understood and even appreciated. When you connect with someone, you feel their joys and sorrows as viscerally as if they emanated from within you.

Think of the connections we form with beloved fictional characters. We don’t just know their story, we feel the pulse of their very being. We are so attuned to who they are that their actions and emotional responses make perfect sense to us as if we could have predicted them ourselves. For instance, when I was seeing Game of Thrones, I felt Daenerys would burn down Kings Landing before I saw her do it. Had she not done that, I would have thought that was unlike her.

But, unlike the movie, connection is a two-way thing; and requires constant effort (maintaining that connection). Furthermore, someone you have a deep connection with can also predict with striking accuracy what your feelings and behaviour might be in almost every given situation. This is because being connected requires being seen and understood by another.

This of course is scary, and many people both consciously and unconsciously avoid having such connections. It is even more the case if they have been hurt before by someone they bonded with in the past.

But, connecting with people is important for the flourishing of our soul. It is critical for building fulfilling relationships; without them, our overall happiness suffers.

How To Connect With People: Building Meaningful and Fulfilling Bonds.

Whether you are extroverted or introverted, truly connecting with others begins with having a clear understanding of your authentic self – your values, goals, strengths, and weaknesses – and the courage to vulnerably open up – to be seen and understood – by those whose ideals resonate with your own. This holds true online and in real life (IRL), whether romantic, platonic, or business-related.

Below are not just steps, but things you should continually do to connect with people.

Know Yourself

If you had a Lego piece you wanted to fit together with another, then you will start by considering how many studs your piece has. Is it 2 X 4,  1 X 6, or something else? This knowledge will help you find and identify a compatible piece – a piece with exact, corresponding, or sufficient sockets. Similarly, understanding yourself – your values, strengths, and what truly lights you up – helps you identify the best people for you.

You know yourself by developing a practice of radical self-honesty and introspection. Spend time exploring your innermost thoughts, motivations and belief systems. What matters most to you? What principles guide your journey? 

Some things you can try to help you know yourself better include;

  • Journaling: Explore your values through prompts like “What am I afraid of losing?”, “What do I want to get rid of?”, “What am I most grateful for?”, “What am I proud of?”, “What would my ideal life look like?”, and so on. Also, reflect on your past choices and actions, and ask yourself questions like “Why did I say that?”, or  “Why didn’t I do that?”.
  • Taking Personality and Strengths Assessments: Tools like the VIA Character Strengths Survey and the 16 Personality Test can help you identify your top character strengths as well as personality type, respectively. Just like with journaling, the trick lies in being as honest as possible. They may not be a 100% accurate representation of who you are, nor are they written in stone, but they provide a very close estimation of what the reality might be.
  • Seeking Diverse Perspectives: Sometimes we can delude ourselves or fail to see the truth about ourselves, just like we struggle to see our noses which are right in front of us. So, it helps to talk to trusted friends, mentors, or even a professional. Gaining different perspectives on your personality can offer valuable insights. However, it is important not to take these assessments as unchanging truths about who you are, but rather as permeable observations. Even a professional can still be biassed. It is always helpful to ask “Why?”, and then ponder on the reasons.
  • Meditating and Practising Mindfulness: Observing your thoughts via meditation is a powerful way to become aware of what is going on inside your mind. It can help you take note of your fear, worries, desires, shame, and so on, without having to engage or get sucked in by them. And, staying mindful of those thoughts and emotions as you go through your day can be a powerful way to know people you resonate with. With meditation and mindfulness, you become more aware of those you enjoy being around, and those your guts simply don’t like. 

Embrace Vulnerability

If you have a powerful lamp and have found the right outlet for it, you may still worry that the outlet might be loose, or deliver too much charge that may fry the bulb. This is also true for finding people who seem right for you. 

But, the truth is that there is always that risk. And if you never take the chance and just plug in, you will never get to illuminate the space.

Brené Brown, a renowned researcher on vulnerability, famously said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the pathway to love.” 

We instinctively guard our true selves for fear of being rejected, but ironically, it is candid authenticity that attracts the right people. Besides, there is always a possibility the people we care about will hurt us one way or the other, intentionally or unintentionally. So, it demands courage to openly express our genuine thoughts and emotions. 

While you do not have to start blurting out your religious, political, or philosophical views in public, nor try to connect with toxic people, it is worth opening up about such heavy topics with people whom you admire and wish to connect with on a deeper level. You can also share something personal, like a phobia, a dream you haven’t spoken of before, or an unpopular view you have. 

Doing this may feel scary, and in some cases might uncover frictions, but that’s fine. You don’t have to build deep relationships with everyone. Ask yourself, is a deep relationship with someone who can’t stand who truly you are worth it? Isn’t it helpful to know exactly how deep to go and where to draw the boundaries?

Only those who accept and embrace your authentic self are worth nurturing deep connections with; because they are the ones who want to see you shine. The rest can have the curated you – polite and diplomatic, but by definition, a “lite version”.

Listen to understand

While opening up and being vulnerable is great, also keep in mind that the other person may/will have things they need you to not just hear, but to understand.

So often we are preoccupied with what we’ll say next instead of fully absorbing another’s words and essence.

If you want others to open up and connect with you, then you must learn to become an engaged and empathetic listener.

Learn to resist judging prematurely. Try to understand the reasoning behind each action. Perhaps, it’s a confession and they are trying to show you their history – trying to warn you of patterns that trigger the worst in them. Perhaps, they are showing you their weakness and subconsciously asking for your strength.

The trick is to learn to observe/listen without judging. Ask questions and get to know them deeper.  

Give them space to breathe and unfold organically, shedding inauthentic layers.

You might not love what you discover, but that’s alright. 

Just remember your job is to understand and connect (if all seems cool to you), not to fix and condemn (if you don’t like something about them).

Communicate your needs clearly and non-violently

Most people accuse, attack, and coerce others instead of simply stating what they want. The result is that the other person gets defensive, or feels horrible granting them what they need.

For instance, someone might accuse their friend of being negligent, and threaten not to show up when they invite them for events, instead of simply stating that they would love their friends to call or visit more often.

Other times, they endure things they do not like because they are afraid of how the other might feel. For example, they don’t mention how much they dislike the late coming or how every discussion is dragged into politics. 

Such poor communication alienates them/you from others. How? They never get to know what you want (or don’t want). All they know is that you get angry or distant “for no reason”.

To connect with others, it is important to communicate clearly and non-violently.

I recommend the book “Nonviolent Communication”, by Marshall B. Rosenberg

Invest more in good relationships.

Oil isn’t found by drilling a million shallow wells, but by going deep with one. Same with connection. You don’t feel more connected by accumulating 10,000 “Friends” on social media, but by nurturing a few true relationships (preferably IRL).

Generally speaking, you invest in good relationships by being there for the people you care about. This doesn’t always mean physical availability or giving money. Sometimes, they just need you to be emotionally available, to Facetime, to ask how they are doing, and to listen. Other times, you invest by offering advice, sharing interesting content you find online, or connecting them with people and opportunities.

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Conclusion: To Get Real Connection, Give Your Real Self.

There’s no magic formula or checklist for building deep bonds. Sometimes the person you connect with most is the one you cuss with all day long. Maybe that’s just your thing. In such cases, taking advice from someone who says you should never make fun of your friends might actually harm the authenticity of your relationship.

So don’t overthink it. And don’t get overly reliant on rules, tips, and hacks. Instead, learn to get comfortable in your own skin. 

Be 100% yourself.

Be at peace with the fact that not everyone will vibe with you. Never wait around for others’ approval to appreciate your quirks and what makes you unique. Also, don’t wait to see what others glamorise before appreciating and admitting it. 

Real connection doesn’t demand perfection. It simply requires honesty – the rawly authentic kind – and the courage to keep putting yourself out there, flaws and all. Those are the true ingredients for forging bonds that go beyond the superficial and hopefully, last a lifetime.


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Dick David is a freelance SEO content writer and editor with over 7 years of experience in content writing, digital marketing, and sales. He is the founder of Pawns Digital Agency. Throughout his career, he has authored over 4 books, published hundreds of SEO articles attracting thousands of monthly visitors, ghostwritten numerous works, and edited hundreds of content pieces across various industries. Currently, he works with Robert Taylor Media and has also worked with Tobi Digitals and Branditechture Design Agency, among others.

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