I’m not a fan of chit chat. I’ll do it if I have to but I prefer to go deeper in conversations. I look to create meaningful connections with everyone I meet from the amazon delivery driver through to the lady who does my eyebrows.
When you actively seek to create meaningful connections, you get to learn more about yourself and you almost certainly learn more about other people.
If you can be more open, you’ll see that even if you might have outgrown some of your friendships, there are still millions of people around you. And these people could possess the attributes that just might fit you perfectly, right now.
Human beings are a social species that relies on cooperation to survive and thrive. This means that we’re not meant to be alone. We should cultivate our relationships and we should be actively creating meaningful connections.
Aside from the scientific reasons to be social, we also need to understand that we have to work on our relationships – all of them. There’s an assumption we make that our friendships will grow as we grow but this is simply not true.
Relationships change as people change but this doesn’t have to mean loss, it just means it’s time to create some new connections. But where do you start?
Just like with anything you want from life, you have to know what your values are. What’s important to you in a meaningful connection? What does this mean to you? Once you’ve answered these questions, you will see which of your current relationships provide you with what you need. This knowledge then allows you to create the space for welcoming new relationships.
This is a technique I use with my relationship clients but it works equally well for all relationships and social scenarios. If you don’t like small talk, then you need to prepare some open questions that will allow more meaningful interactions to occur. Let me give you an example:
My work is extremely meaningful, I even read philosophy and coaching theory for fun! Therefore, when I’m socialising, I’m open to a little bit of light conversation but if you want my attention, you need to bring more substance.
After the quick “hi, how are you?” chit chat, I move to asking open questions that aren’t intimidating but instead allow the person I’m interested to talk to, to share more than they just have. Something like “I’ve just watched all of Modern Family and loved it, have you watched anything good recently?
What this simple question does is it shows you that I like watching tv, I’m sharing something familiar and it’s easy to answer (most people are watching something). They then get to share something they’ve enjoyed which (if it’s of interest to me) allows me to engage with them further. If they share something that I’m not interested in, I can either choose to learn more, or move on.
When you engage in meaningful conversations, they often start from simple questions. We tend to overthink when we’re meeting new people but the top tip here is to actually keep the questions simple but open. This way, the other person doesn’t feel intimidated and you don’t overshare where it’s not welcome.
I host group wellness retreats that are targeted to individuals. I want strangers to come and meet other strangers so that they can create meaningful connections. A wellness retreat is a time for growth which is sparked by many things including outgrowing their relationships.
I have a call with each attendee prior to a retreat taking place and without fail, each person asks if there are other people on the retreat of a similar age.
At every retreat I’ve hosted, the youngest attendee always worries about getting on with the older ones – often fearing that they’ll be seen as inexperienced and immature. The oldest attendees, feel the same except they worry they’ll be the boring unapproachable ones.
Every single time, the youngest often connects best with the oldest at the retreat – I haven’t done the science on this so can’t explain it – but I do love it!
The simple explanation is that age isn’t the factor here. In order to create meaningful connections, you just need to be open to anyone and everyone. In this example, they had the retreat in common. This included coming on their own, meeting people for the first time, meeting me for the first time, flying on their own for the first time etc etc. Even before they’ve met, they already have many conversation points they can discuss with each other.
Then, as the week unfolds, as you feel more comfortable, you start to share and listen to more and you get to connect more deeply.
Getting out of your comfort zone is key here. You need to look at your values list and then make an interests list. Go where your people are. Seek out people that you already have something in common with. This could be movie groups, book clubs, comics, sports – anything – just seek them out online or in person, prep your questions and boom, you have a new pool of people to start connecting with.
If you want to create meaningful connections, you have to know yourself. You have to know to the best of your ability, who you are and what you bring to the table in your relationships. It’s not necessary to seek out people who complement you, just that you’re aware of your good qualities in a relationship.
Being self-aware can be really lovely in new conversations. I do this often when I meet people for the first time. I’ll always ask them an open, curious question about their lives (but never intrusive like do you have kids?) and they start to feel safe and wax lyrical about something they enjoy. It then opens us up to be able to talk more. I will then offer up my green flags through like-minded chatter i.e. the things that make me great, in a bid to show them who I am and what I’m about through flowing conversation – this is not about bragging!
By doing this, I’m being open and honest with them about my qualities so that they can assess if I’m worth having a conversation with.
It also allows me to see if they are what I’m looking for in a new connection too.
Ever met someone in an unlikely event and just fallen in love with them? Your whole interaction was easy, bouncing off each other and truly feeling as if you were separated at birth?
You just created a meaningful connection. What now?
Did you vow to see each other more often but after that one encounter, you never saw them again?
If you like someone, just like in dating, you have to commit to cultivating that relationship. You have to text, call, arrange regular meets – which you must diarise and commit to. In addition, you have to listen to each other and you have to treat the relationship as precious if you want it to survive.
You can’t just leave it to chance. Taking action to cultivate the connection is what helps to create a meaningful relationship.
To truly connect with someone, you need to learn about them specifically. Focus on their wants, joys, desires, aspirations or just what they like talking about.
Puja McClymont – certified coach, wisdom teacher, speaker and host of the SELF Care 101 podcast.
As a life and leadership coach, I help mission-driven individuals who are seeking direction, to gain clarity, by expanding their inner awareness through the ancient wisdom teachings of Ayurveda and Yoga; so that they can lead more purposeful and fulfilling lives.
Please check your inbox, spam/junk folders for a welcome email.