Connecting at a deep level in today’s world is harder than ever, in my opinion. As the Internet is dominating our worlds, we seem to lose the ability to communicate clearly. We care about how many likes we get instead of how many real relationships we have in our lives.
And when we don’t receive the love or connection we wish in real life, we tend to blame on others. But the thing is communication is multidimensional and we need to look into all dynamics in a group.
In psychology, there is a theory called the Johari Window Model. In a nutshell, the model explains the self and its perception on others with four elements: Open Area (known to others and self), Blind Spot (known to others but not known to self), Hidden Area (not known to others but known to self), and finally Unknown (Not known to others and self). And this model can be used to understand dynamics in a group and cultivate better relationships.
To me, the one window that is highly relevant to our relationships is the Hidden Area. It refers to emotions, past experiences, worries, and secrets that we never share with others.
Perhaps we do it to protect ourselves for the sake of privacy. Or we protect ourselves from harm, gossip, or critics. Or we may have low self-esteem that we don’t want others to know that we have flaws, bad experiences, or weaknesses.
But if we keep our authentic self to us only, this only creates barriers between us and others.
Instead, we can try to be vulnerable. Perhaps, this won’t happen overnight. And perhaps, we don’t start with sharing our biggest secret. But we can achieve this slowly.
Before you become vulnerable, be vulnerable to yourself first. Accept yourself as who you’re and show compassion to the parts of you that you avoid sharing with others. Once you love yourself with your flawless flaws, you won’t mind what others think of you or judge you based on your fears or past experiences.
Then, be brave enough to show your authentic self. It takes courage to be vulnerable and it’s a beautiful thing. But when we share our feelings and experiences with someone, we only invite them to be as real as ourselves. Then, there is a meaningful conversation happening between two people. Recently, I’ve discovered that two of my friends are working on themselves through therapy. And I’ve been working with a holistic life coach this year to figure out my life. We only happened to know about each other’s stories after one of us showed the courage to share and now we’re deeply connected and can see each other truly.
Have Meaningful Conversations
In a Ted Talk called 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation, Celeste Headlee suggests having conversations like journalists do. Ask open-ended questions instead of yes/no. Ask them what that event made them feel. Even if they never thought of how the experience was, you’ll give them a chance to think about it and share it with you.
And another gold suggestion Headlee has in her Ted talk is to put yourself aside from the topic. Whatever their view of point in one conversation, listen to learn. We don’t have to agree on everything. But be open to listening to what others have to say about something.
And be there with your full presence. Put the phone away. And one thing we do is we aren’t present in the conversation to hear about them. We can’t wait to tell them about ourselves when they share their story. But there’s no point in jumping into telling others about our experience after a second they shared. Twisting the conversation to ourselves the entire time decreases the chances of a deep connection and we can’t get hints about others to create a meaningful relationship.
Don’t Be Afraid of Showing Them You Care About Them
In today’s world, we all became very cool. When dating we play games. We wait for them to call or message us while we’re dying to talk to them. When not dating we play games too. We hide our feelings from friends. We don’t share when we have trouble with them, or we don’t tell them enough that we’re supporting them unconditionally. We show our care to others on social media but when we talk to them face to face, we don’t have the same engagement as we wished. Because we keep a distance.
We don’t have the thumbs up or like button in real life. But we have something more powerful. Touch someone when you think they need support. Hug people that you care about more than just a second. Feel the love you wish to give and receive. (Perhaps not during Covid19). Do a high five every time your friends or family achieve something that they care about.
Show your emotions and tell them how you miss them so much, how a memory that you shared a few months ago still arises happy feelings in you.
In summary, in real life, be the lovely person you are who distributes likes on social media.
Having meaningful relationships require us to look at ourselves and how we communicate with others through objectivity.
You know the drill. Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable with others. Show them your authentic self with your sides that you’re proud of or not. Have meaningful conversations where both sides engage on a deeper level. Show people how much you care about them.
Even if you do only one of these things, you’ll end up seeing someone differently than before and you’ll give them the chance to do that for you.