Connecting with others is important to me and as an introvert I look for different ways to do this. This can be difficult with the number of people I come across in daily life but over recent months I have discovered a few ways in which I can find moments of connection in both everyday situations as well as with closer relationships.
Becoming aware of the day-to-day connections
Each day I come across many different people, but those I make direct contact with are significantly fewer. So when I can, I now take time to notice the everyday connections I make – that smile in the lift, saying hello at the coffee machine, making eye contact and acknowledging someone as I pass them in the corridor – all this helps me realise that I actually connect with others more than I realise.
In the past I spent a lot of time presenting an image of myself to the world that did not entirely reflect who I was. Or I would hide certain aspects of myself away and keep them close to me. Even now I often worry about what others think of me and don’t always allow myself to be me. This can create a barrier between myself and the outside world and lead to a disconnect. So when I feel able to, I try to tell someone something about me that they don’t already know. Nothing too big, but something that I feel comfortable sharing and which helps others understand more about me. It could be something about a hobby for example, but just something that shows others the real me.
Noticing what I have in common with others
I often feel that I am different to everyone else, a bit of an outsider. I am quieter than a lot of people and my interests and experiences are not the same as many others I know. I expect that a lot of people have similar feelings at some point in their lives. So focussing instead on what I have in common with those around me helps with this. It could be that I live in the same town as someone I work with, or that I like the same kind of music as a family member. Maybe I know people who have the same interest in books as myself. Knowing this is a great way to strike up a conversation with them about it, and at other times it is simply enough to know we have something in common.
Focussing energy on those who are important to me
I have started to think more about whether I spend enough time with those people who are important to me, or whether I make the effort to stay in touch with them. As a result I am focussing on making more time for them, whether this is meeting up, sending them a text or an an email, or simply ‘liking’ their social media status update. All this shows I’m thinking of them.
Noticing and showing kindness
I don’t always fully appreciate it when someone is kind to me or has done something to help me. I will always say thank you to them, but I can quickly forget about it and move on with my day. I don’t fully recognise their act of kindness, so now I take time to appreciate it more. At the same time I look for opportunities to be kind to others. It could be that I can buy someone a coffee, give them a compliment, hold the door open for them, or simply smile at someone. All of this helps me feel much more connected with others.
When I’m having conversations with others my mind can often wonder and it’s not until the end that I realise I’ve heard very little of what that person said. You know that moment when someone looks at you expectantly, waiting for a response and you have no idea what they asked you! I’ve discovered that how well I listen can have an impact on my relationships with others. So I now try be fully present when I am in a conversation with someone. This means not being distracted by what is going on around me, not being absorbed in my own thoughts, and not planning how I am going to answer. I try to pay full attention to the other person and what they say.