Your road to self-empowerment

The Art of Deep Connection – Getting People to Like You (And the Other Way Around) – Part Two

January 17, 2021.Merijn Duchatteau

In part one of this series, we took a look at the mindset that is necessary to forge deep and fulfilling connections with others. Specifically, we talked about vulnerability and acceptance.

Today we’ll be continuing this line of thought by diving into the practicalities of actually creating vulnerability and acceptance and in turn forging those deeper connections. We’ll look at the following aspects in practice:

  • How to express yourself fully and how to create a positive atmosphere
  • How to make the other person feel connected to you

Expressing yourself fully

To allow others to connect with us, we must allow them to look inside our minds. We all have opinions and preferences that guide our behavior and decision-making: when you decide on what to eat for dinner tonight you may skip your local pizza place because you fucking hate their pizzas. You may dislike the amount of fat they put into it. You may dislike their sauce because you think it tastes like old socks. You may have eaten their pizza every day for the past two weeks and want something else tonight. Whatever it may be, you have your reasons, just like you have your reasons for any other preference you have. Even your most intuitive feelings and opinions about whatever or whomever always have their backstory.

In normal conversations, we very rarely share this backstory. Sometimes consciously because we don’t like being vulnerable in our opinions, but sometimes due to standard conversing habits which cause us to speak shallowly. When we tap into the why and the underlying emotions of our feelings and opinions, we are able to enrichen our conversations not only by making it more interesting for the party we are speaking with, but also by allowing others to agree or disagree with our – unique – why.

Take a moment to assess the extent to which you currently express yourself fully in the conversation. If someone asks you how you are doing, how rich is your response? Do you say “I’m fine thanks” or do you elaborate on your why? When someone asks you why you don’t want to eat pizza tonight, do you say “I don’t really feel like it” or do you elaborate on why you don’t really feel like it? This goes for every subject in any conversation you have. How much are you enriching these conversations? Even in small talk, you can add a layer of depth and increase connection quickly by allowing others inside your mind. For most people, this means they should be talking more.

how to connect

Learning to create positive vibes

After you get down what to say, it’s just as important to get down how you say it. When looking to create engaging conversations the way you talk and present yourself has a massive effect on how the other person experiences you. Carrying yourself well comes down to posture, intonation & phrasing, and eye contact.

Your posture should be straight. I know you’ve heard this many times before. I also know your posture probably still sucks. Tilt your hips inward, your shoulders down & back, and straighten your head so it aligns with your shoulders and points upwards like there’s a little rope pulling you towards the ceiling. My posture has sucked for years even though I knew exactly what it should look like. It didn’t change until I started to work on it actively, so take a few minutes a day to do some posture exercises. Fixing your posture is one of the quickest ways to massively improve the impression you have on others. Additionally, you will feel better about yourself too. After some time of doing the exercises, your improved posture will become your default and you won’t have to think about it twice. It only takes 5 minutes a day. Don’t be lazy.

Then let’s take a look at your intonation & phrasing. These aspects should be varied and energetic. As far as your intonation goes: the range of voice that most people use in their speech is extremely limited, which is a massive shame as the options we have are pretty much limitless. To create an engaging conversation, you must vary in strength (loud/soft), speed (fast/slow) as well as pitch (high/low). Play with these levels to emphasize certain words or phrases and use pauses wisely. Using these aspects of your voice intently can change the entire atmosphere of any conversation. It can bring a shitload of energy into a room or it can calm everyone down depending on what you want to accomplish. Mostly because we know from psychology that other people will follow the energy you set: you speak with zest and full of speed and people will follow this energetic atmosphere. You speak relatively slowly and calmly, and people will follow that. This way you can effectively steer the atmosphere of almost any conversation. What may help: think of a presentation you saw recently. How was the intonation of the person presenting? Were you engaged? Why or why not? How could it be improved and what can you learn from it?

As far as phrasing goes, many of the above applies too: you need variance. The importance of switching up your phrasing is beautifully illustrated by the following passage from Gary Provost:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

See how much variation can change up the energy? This applies for speech as well as writing. Use it.

Lastly, your eyes are a very powerful weapon for effectively presenting yourself and creating connection. While keeping your posture in check, you should always look people in the eyes and not be the first to break eye contact. But much like your intonation and phrasing, your eyes can be more expressive than that: you can widen and squint them, which allows for more emotion to be conveyed. I like to imagine I am looking directly into someone’s soul when I look them in their eyes. This changes the way you look at them and creates a deeper sense of connection.

how to connect

Getting others to talk

Now that we’ve looked at how you can fully present and express yourself, it is time to look at what you can do to actually turn this into a connective conversation that goes both ways.

Allow for space to connect and hit the right buttons

If you’ve been doing your homework, you should be expressing your why in your speech. However, this doesn’t mean you just go on a rant about your thoughts and feelings. Conversations go both ways. The point of connecting is that you are connecting with each other. This means you should not be the person talking all the time. You should allow your conversational partner to express themselves as well, otherwise, there is nothing for you to connect with.

Therefore make sure to show genuine interest and curiosity towards your conversational partner and focus this on their why’s. If you have just elaborated on why you hate the local pizza place, ask them how they feel about it and why. If they have no specific opinion on this specific place, ask for something similar such as foods or places they dislike, and then have them elaborate on that. Don’t just do this because you want to force a connection. Do it out of genuine curiosity: everyone has their own decades of experiences that have led them to be with you, at this moment, talking about their experiences. Everything they’ve experienced led them to have certain opinions or feelings. And you have the opportunity to share and learn about their life story too. How awesome is that? Just make sure it’s not an interview. It’s both people giving each other a peek into their minds.

People love talking. Especially about themselves. The more you can get out their “why”, the more they will appreciate the conversation. Ideally, your conversational partner should be speaking more than you are.

how to connect

Connecting with emotion and passion

Everyone loves to talk about things they are passionate about. It’s up to you to dig it out. Sometimes it can help to simply ask about their passions and ask them about it. Just make sure you go deep. Don’t just say “oh cool” and move on to the next subject. It’s their passion. It’s one of the things they love doing the most in the entire world. Dive into it. Find out why. Feel their enthusiasm and be curious. If it’s their true passion and you show genuine interest, you should be able to talk about it all day.

Keeping a conversation going: building on what you get

Sometimes you may not know what to say. Or maybe your conversational partner isn’t really biting when you’re expressing yourself fully and they’re giving you short answers. In these situations, it’s often important to “push” through the barrier of boringness in order to find something you do connect on. Firstly, you can use associating to keep any conversation going. Let’s say you ask how someone’s day was and they tell you the following:

“It was alright. Nothing special so far.. Just went to the grocery store for a big dinner tonight but I’m quite tired, to be honest”.

Now the obvious choice is to ask for the dinner plans. You’ll likely get a response like “oh it’s just a dinner party with some friends” and then the conversation dies. But there are a lot of opportunities for moving the conversation towards something more connective through follow-up questions or by sharing your own experiences through associations. For instance:

“It was alright” 
That doesn’t sound as good as it could be, why are you feeling this way? (playing into emotion)

“Nothing special so far”
What would make a day for you special? How could you still make this day special? (a question that is out of the ordinary and connects with passion)

“…a big dinner tonight” 
Oh, that sounds great! That reminds me of this large dinner party last week. We all dressed up and ate lobster and drank expensive wine even though we’re all poor. We felt like big shots all night, it was awesome. (building upon the conversation to share your own experiences)

“I’m quite tired”
Had a rough night yesterday huh? I can relate. Work has been killing me all week. Tell me about your night. (playing into emotion/allowing someone to open up/sharing your own experiences)

Simply building on what another person is saying will allow you to continue almost any conversation, even with extremely limited answers. Obviously, if someone is just telling you “yes” and “no”, you might need to take the hint and move on. Or you could try to open up once or twice yourself one last time.

how to connect

Implementing the ideas and practical tips in this and the previous article can greatly enrich your connections. It can be difficult to apply everything at once which can cause conversations to feel “fake”. Give it some time to become a habit. If you’re really struggling, limit the amount of new techniques you apply at once. Happy connecting!

Categories: Self-improvement