Early Tuesday morning, I was lying on my mat at Flex & Flow in a supported shoulder stand (aka a block underneath my sacrum and my legs up in the air); it was about 30 minutes before the next class was supposed to start and two new students walked in. As they checked in and started to make their way to the floor, I realized I still had socks on (and am pretty sure, ok certain, that they were even slightly mismatched) and I most certainly was still sporting a pony tail leftover from Monday. I made a lighthearted comment about being on my mat with my mismatched socks and introduced myself to the newcomers. We shared a collective laugh and then began talking about our holiday weekends, the fact that our yoga pants were constantly covered in dog hair, and all the other normal things you share with your friends.
When class started, I noticed that they both seemed more comfortable; any anxiety or apprehensions they came in with had just melted away. They were lighthearted and happy throughout their hour long practice and it made me feel good to see that a simple smile and effort to connect could make someone feel genuinely welcome and at ease in a new space, situation and community.
Often without intention, everywhere I go, I make a genuine effort to connect with others – it doesn’t matter if I’m at Flex & Flow with socked feet in the air, or at the dog park in my sweats, or at the coffee shop, grocery store, or even online – I’m constantly connecting and thinking about how to create stronger, more meaningful connections with others.
To me, connecting is everything; simply getting to know others is what makes the world turn. And there are so many reasons to start being a connector if you’re not already. Connecting with others provides you with an opportunity to learn more about yourself and grow. It can also open up doors and provide you with opportunities to build strong partnerships.
With BlogFest just a week away and FitBloggin on its heels, I wanted to offer a few tips on making the most out of connecting. And no, I don’t mean tips on how to network. I mean tips on connecting – actually engaging and getting to know others – and walking away with more than just their business card and a hand shake.
Here are my 5 tips for connecting with others:
- Remember and be memorable. We all like people who listen; it’s human nature to want to be listened to and remembered. So it’s no surprise that one of my most important tips for being a good connector is to listen to others and do your best to remember what they say to you — and that includes their name! When I’m meeting someone new, I’m constantly trying to find a way to make the interaction more memorable. It can be as simple as, what a cool top – where did you get it? I love your hair – that braid is killin’ it! The more you can find out about someone during an interaction, the more likely you are to remember something noteworthy about them and the more likely they’ll remember you. The next time you meet, you might say, ohhhh you’re always killin’ it with those braids or another cool top – ok, now you have to tell me all your fashion secrets. If you do this, people will feel listened to, and more easily warm and open up to you.
- Treat everyone you meet like a good friend. I treat my interactions with others (even strangers) like I would with any good friends. I smile, act and speak genuinely, and open up to them. I talk about shared passions and sometimes even present certain vulnerabilities (like mismatched socks, for instance) to ease them into conversation and makes them feel like they can really open up and talk.
- Find common ground. Chances are you have something in common with everyone you meet – and finding that common ground might be easier than you think – you can often ascertain a commonality based on where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with. Take in your situation and then start asking questions, listening and once you find that common ground, share it with them! Common ground can be as simple as both owning a dog, living in a particular neighborhood, enjoying a certain coffee shop – but once you find it, its a chance to open up, talk and find more in common.
- Always be an open hand. Be open to the people who cross your path and always give more than you expect to receive. As a natural connector, one thing I have always done is approach my relationships with an open hand. If someone mentions they’re looking for a job or interested in learning more about a subject, my brain automatically starts working to figure out who I might be able to introduce them to or how I can help them in their quest. Always think about what you can do for others rather than what they can do for you and you’ll have an opportunity to learn, grow and enhance who you currently are.
- Cut the BS! Your energy and passion is what makes you YOU; your energy and passion is what makes you contagious, memorable and interesting to others. Don’t act like someone you’re not or attempt to put on airs because people will see right through you and dismiss you. Just be you.
Whether you’re getting ready for BlogFest, FitBloggin‘ or just walking out the door to the coffee shop, think about these 5 easy things you can do to create deeper connections with others. Connecting is truly part of who we are – its what makes the world turn – its how we become better people in life, in business, in our family and relationships. Show up for others, be yourself, offer your hand, and listen – and your connecting powers will start to unfold in ways you never thought possible.
Happy connecting friends!
As always, stay sweaty!