Want Better Opportunities? Learn to Connect with People in a Meaningful Way

UPDATED: July 28, 2023
PUBLISHED: July 28, 2023
headshot of Nick Santonastasso, who shares why we need to connect with people more

Most of us are living in a hybrid world of in-person and virtual interactions. It may feel easier than ever to keep relationships shallow. But surface-level relationships are fundamentally unsatisfying. You need to go deeper.

Learning how to connect with people in your community and organization is the key to so much of what you want. When you engage, you get access to other people’s big ideas, inspiring energy and unique stories. All of this adds up to opportunities, both to explore the world out there and to evaluate your own internal life.

How to connect with people in a meaningful way

To meaningfully connect with people, you must be intentional. You stand to gain a world of benefits and there are two practical, easy ways to begin.

First, to really connect with someone, you have to understand their model of the world. Everyone has a different way of seeing things. These individual perspectives shape most of our decisions, including how we solve problems and move through difficulties.

Do you know how the people around you think? You can. Start by studying personality types. Google it. Read books. Use DISC or other methodologies to define the way you see people act. You can pretty easily master the basics, enabling you to extract meaning from how people talk and behave.

Second, remember that no one’s benefiting from your monologue. The best way to connect is to stop talking and listen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: The quality of your life comes down to the quality of questions you ask yourself and the questions you ask other people. Ask great questions. Then, be genuinely interested in the answers.

When you are open, quiet and patient, you will get all sorts of information about what people think, what they want, what they’re concerned about and what they hope for. This is when you begin to match your values to others and enrich a relationship.

People who can implement these two practices are well-equipped to plug into a community. Exercise these muscles and you’ll fast-track your ability to sell, dialogue, negotiate and master a number of other essential business skills.

Step out of your comfort zone

You may be thinking, I get the case you’re making—that this has business value—but it’s just not in my nature to reach out.

Let me speak to that.

By default, many of us operate within an inner circle. An inner circle is great, but it’s also comfortable, and your comfort zone isn’t your growth zone. If you really want to elevate your identity and unwire and rewire your brain, you must keep what you fear most at the forefront and tackle that thing.

I am a firm believer in the idea that you are one conversation away from changing your life. If you’ve lacked the bravery to put yourself out there and connect with people in a meaningful way, let me encourage you to start.

Relationships and communication are foundational to success.

So get out there. Find out what you don’t know. Gain confidence and make it a goal to make meaningful connections.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo courtesy of Nick Santonastasso.