It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again – the holidays have officially started. With all the magic and wonder that comes with the holidays, so can stress and anxiety: family time, holiday parties, and reconnecting with old friends. Wanting to help you navigate through the next few weeks with as much ease and magical wonder as possible, we are here to share with you some easy steps to really enjoy the festive season and all it holds for you.
How often have you heard others say (or been the person to say) something to the effect “I have to go to a party at my aunt’s, my supervisor’s, my neighbor’s etc and I really don’t want to go. However, I have to go”? We would hate to be the host of that party! So how come we continue to go to these events when we have decided ahead of time that we will not have fun? We are ‘dreading it’! On other occasions, we look forward to an event and then don’t have the fun we think we will have for a myriad of reasons. This year we invite you to have a different perspective on the festive season. Before each event, we invite you to think about the reasons you are going to the event, how you want to show up at the event and what will make it successful for you –otherwise why go?
Perhaps you want to connect with a friend or relative whom you only see during the holidays? Maybe you want to catch up on the gossip from your old neighborhood? Perhaps it is to promote your new venture, make new friends or….? Whatever the reason maybe, how can you ensure you get what you want from each social outing?
Whether you are in a social situation with your colleagues, your friends, or your family, these 6 simple steps will help you build relationships and make meaningful connections.
1.FOCUS – Know what you want: Arriving at the event with a clear focus on what you want to get out of it will help you stay focused on achieving this outcome. Typically, people find it is easier to know what they don’t want – have a boring time, sit alone with no one to talk to, not drink too much etc. However, if we can’t focus or get clarity around what we do want, how are we going to achieve it and truly enjoy the event? A goal could be meeting 2 new people, having one really interesting conversation, learning something new about a person or catching up on gossip with 2 old friends.
2.LISTEN: I know, I know, we talk about it all the time, and there is a reason! It’s really THAT important when communicating and forming relationships. We have learned that people really struggle with listening well. Giving the speaker your full attention messages respect for that person. Relationships are built on respect. Body language is a huge part of listening. What is your body language saying? Are you making eye contact or looking over their shoulder wondering who the next person is that will walk into the room? What’s your face doing? Is it relaxed or tense? Notice the same cues in the speaker. This is part of listening. People love to be heard, and people love people who take the time to listen to them! It is hard to ask questions when you aren’t listening to the speaker. Notice how much you can learn from a person in a short time just by listening, and how that affects your relationships.
3. BE CURIOUS: People love to tell their stories. Being curious through open questions is a perfect way to find out what someone’s story is. Being curious about someone and learning about them builds a connection. Curiosity not only helps create and build a relationship, it can strengthen a relationship as well. It allows you to understand a person’s perspective, which leads to them feeling seen, heard, and understood (ultimately what we all want in the end!).
The easiest way to start a conversation is by asking open questions which typically begin with how, what, where, why or why. “How do you know (____)?” “What do you do at (_____)?” “What do you think of (______)?” “Tell me more about (______)”. The quickest way to engage someone is to ask an open question. It is also the easiest way to learn something about a person. Get stuck and can’t think of a questions or what to be curious about – “tell me more” is a great way to learn more and keep the dialogue going.
When we are not curious, quite often we are judging our self or others. Typically this is the basis of gossip, something in which we all enjoy partaking……and have you noticed how sometimes after a juicy gossip session you feel yucky? If your goal for an event is to catch up on gossip, how can you do so in a way that makes you feel ok after? How can you be curious, perhaps entertain different perspectives so that you can catch up without feeling miserable afterward?
4.DIM YOUR HEAD CHATTER: So often we find ourselves listening to our own head chatter more than we are listening to the person who is speaking to us. We have found when we leave our head chatter at the door, we are able to focus on conversations and be fully present and engaged in the conversation. This helps us to be open, curious and not judge self or others.
When we don`t do this, we find the chatter in our heads sometimes takes over, limiting our focus on what the speaker is saying to us. We find ourselves thinking about the next food we want to eat or drink we want to have, who has just walked in the door or criticizing self or others, all the while NOT listening to the person who is speaking to us. And it is noticeable! What can you do to park your head chatter at the door and give yourself permission to enjoy each and every moment while you are in it?
5. WATCH YOUR INTERRUPTIONS: The most disrespectful thing we can do is to interrupt someone. It messages that what we have to say is more important than what they have to say (ie they have lesser value). Not the best way to start or build upon a relationship. Think for a minute what it’s like for you when someone interrupts you? How does it feel? Many have said that they interrupt because they are worried they will forget what they are going to say, or a point they need to make. What would it be like to enter a conversation where there isn’t a wrong or right? A conversation and discussion that can be open to all perspectives respectfully.
6. BE IN THE MOMENT: Once we have a focus for the event it is easier to be in the moment while there. We invite you to be open, in the moment and focused on what you want from the event. We can all be aware of how we listen, how curious we are and how often we interrupt others. We have found when we focus on the person who is speaking and let it be about them, often they in turn want to give us the space to talk and share our perspectives. When we are open to others, most often, they become open towards us.
So much of our pre-party anxiety can come with the thought of it being about us. What am I going to say? What if I am not funny? What if I don’t come across as smart? We invite you to focus on what you want your experience to be and to see, hear and seek to understand others. We have seen how this can lead to a truly enjoyable party experience.
We want to hear your successful party conversation strategies, what works and what doesn’t? How are you making the most of this holiday season?
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