By Erin Cline, June 22, 2020
As social distancing and isolation carry on due to COVID-19, 2020 has gradually transformed into a year of confusion, distress, and loneliness for many of you. You miss relaxing, laughing, and making fun memories with loved ones. You miss random exchanges with strangers while out and about. You miss what you once called normal.
Without a doubt, a need for joyful and meaningful interactions is truly escalating while traveling further along this bizarre, unpredictable pathway.
Luckily, with a few tweaks to how you socialize, you can bring those positive qualities back to your social hours.
Plus, by practicing uplifting communication styles, you’ll gain some amazing benefits. According to scientists, healthy social interactions are great for the brain, especially for older adults. Psychology Today highlights that socializing not only increases feelings of well-being, but it also decreases the likelihood of dementia due to exercising memory and other cognitive skills. Sounds awesome, right? Who knew connecting with others could be so advantageous for maintaining a happier mood and healthier brain.
With all this being said, you’re probably ready to reap these benefits. Here are three easy-to-remember tips for doing just that.
Let’s dive in….
1. Be Curious
Each encounter you have with others is like a special event: a serendipitous moment in time you get to share together. And with a certain mindset, those moments can become meaningful and memorable. How? With unquenchable curiosity. Try it out for yourself: next time you’re having a conversation, pretend there are thousands of gems hiding out in the other person and you hold the power for discovering each one with carefully crafted questions. By harnessing this spirit of inquiry, you might unearth an array of stories and information you find both fascinating and relatable – the kind of disclosure encouraging stronger relationships, and possibly the gaining of new ones. Plus, being curious is fun. Who knows what you’ll hear!
2. Be an Active Listener
As you strive to be a curious conversationalist, you can enrich your interactions even more with the addition of active listening. It’s a wonderful skill that helps others, and yourself, feel heard and understood. But how exactly does it work? What does it mean to actively listen? It’s simple: when you finish this article and move onto socializing with someone, try listening to that person in a way where you catch and collect every word he or she expresses. And try taking this even further by dismissing your own thoughts and questions as they pop up, so you can allow room in your thoughts for fully hearing and imagining what’s being shared. In other words, treat it like meditation: focus on the person in front of you while letting your inner monologue pass by like wind. By practicing this kind of attentiveness, you nonverbally communicate that you appreciate and value what’s being shared. It creates a respectful environment encouraging openness and vulnerability – which can lead to the most interesting stories.
3. Be Vulnerable
When a conversation eventually shifts over to you, you can infuse it with more meaningfulness by allowing yourself to be vulnerable. For example, if something said made you feel a certain way or reminded you of something from your past, try sharing those emotions and stories. This not only indicates to the other person that you were actively listening, but also gives him or her the opportunity to connect with you on a personal level. Being vulnerable is, of course, easier said than done. Opening up with such raw, empathic honesty and self-expression can be truly intimidating and uncomfortable; great things, however, can come from sharing your mind and heart this way. It shows how human you are. Which is approachable and relatable. Also, something beautiful can spring up from this kind of openness: sincere, long-lasting relationships.
So there they are. Curiosity. Active listening. Vulnerability. Next time you find yourself catching up with loved ones or sharing serendipitous moments with strangers, experiment with this invaluable trio. See what kind of hidden gems you can uncover. And who knows, maybe these three tips will enhance existing relationships, and also result in new ones. Plus, as mentioned earlier, more positive social interactions promote a happier mood and healthier brain. This trio is worth a try – it can only lead to better, healthier times.
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- “The Health Benefits of Socializing”: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-mild-cognitive-impairment/201606/the-health-benefits-socializing