We spend a lifetime connecting with others. For some, this is very easy. For others, it can be very challenging. For sure, it takes some effort to connect with others. There are two types of connections. We may connect with people who are like us or with people who are not like us.
As a child, it seemed to be very easy to connect with other boys who liked sports. I liked baseball. I made connections with other boys and teammates who liked baseball. I attended church as a child. I made connections with others who attended church.
As an adult, we may find ourselves searching for commonalities, or common interests. If you go to someone’s home or office, maybe they have a picture of playing sports and you share that you have that common interest even though you did not experience it together. Finding things is common is one of the easiest ways to make connections. Getting to know someone requires a conversation with them. Although, you may learn some things about them through a third-party, a website, or social media, you can a better understanding of them through conversation. Finding things in common and having conversation means that you ask questions and the other party shares information about themselves to you. We all connect differently around a host of different topics.
What are some of the areas for us to discover that we may make a connection? We can attempt to learn more about them through asking questions related to where they live either now or in the past. We can ask questions about marital status, family (immediate and extended family) and pets. We can ask questions about their work, travel, special interests, hobbies or even things in which they are passionate. Connecting on similarities means that you will want to share things about yourself. The things we have in common provide us additional conversational opportunities; therefore, we can connect with others with the parts of our lives that are similar.
What about those things that are different? This is where the skill of being curious, open-minded, and respectful are important. We may have many areas of our lives that are different, including age, race, gender, ethnicity, cultural experiences, family, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, or beliefs. These are sometimes the things that divide us. Being curious means to treat the differences that you discover as a point of fascination and interest. This is an opportunity to learn even more about this person than what meets the eye. We have an opportunity to have a deeper conversation about thoughts, beliefs, values and matters of the heart. Open-mindedness means that we don’t judge the other person. This can be very challenging, but it is doable. Being respectful to those things that are different honors the belief that all people are humans and have value. We all share flaws, as well as many positive traits, experiences, and characteristics. Being curious, open, and respectful does not require you to change who you are. It does allow you to make a human connection which may enhance your career, your business opportunities, and your life experience with others.
Making connections is about connecting with others who are like us and connecting with others who are different than us. Either way, we may discover opportunities to lead, love, and learn.