The holidays have arrived and with it, lots of celebrations! For some this is the most magical, wonderful time of year, and for others it is full of anxiety. Dreaded obligations to turn up and talk with people – people they may not know well, feel comfortable talking to, or even know at all. We have all been to a party/gathering like that – butterflies in the belly wondering how you will ever meet anyone, or how you are going to make an impression on your boss with the short, valuable face time, or the anxiety of what kind of impression you will make on your new in-laws?
Regardless of your social situation, here are 5 simple ways to get the most of your holidays so you can successfully connect with others and totally enjoy yourself this holiday season.
1. BE CURIOUS: The easiest way to engage and connect with someone is by being curious. And the easiest way to be curious is to ask an open question: “How do you know (____)?” “What do you do at (_____)?” “What do you think of (______)?” “Tell me more about (______)”. People love to tell their stories and open questions are a perfect way to find out what their story is. Be genuinely curious. What new and interesting things can you uncover about this person?
*Open questions are questions that begin with who, what, where, when, and how. Tell me more is also a great way to get the dialogue started.
2. LISTEN: I know, I know, we talk about it all the time, and there is a reason! It’s really THAT important when engaging others. Plus, we have learned that people really struggle with doing it well. Take the time to truly listen by giving the speaker your full attention. Body language is a huge part of listening. Notice how you are standing – are your arms closed off in front of you or open by your side? 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 hear them! It is hard to be curious and 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. QUIET THE CHATTER IN YOUR HEAD: In order to really listen to someone we need to quiet the chatter in our heads so we can actually HEAR what they have to say. Often we find ourselves thinking about and listening to our own head chatter. This can be about a judgment we are making, the next point we want to make, the next food we want to eat, the next drink we want to have or the next person we want to speak to, all while NOT listening to the person who is speaking to us. And it is noticeable! Turn off your head chatter at the door and give yourself permission to enjoy the moment when you are in it. Respect the speaker by engaging in the conversation with uninterrupted listening.
4. WATCH YOUR INTERRUPTIONS: The most disrespectful thing you can do is to interrupt someone. It messages that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say – 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, where the conversation and discussion can be open to all perspectives respectfully? If you have something to say, by all means it is important to say it. However, wait until the speaker is done before raising your point or concern while being open to hearing their response.
5. BE IN THE MOMENT: When you are in the moment, not worried or thinking about what’s already happened or what’s to come, you will find it much easier to do all of the above. When in any social situation let go of any preconceived notions of what to expect or what people may or may not be like. Be open and in the moment taking it all in, allowing you to listen, be curious, and ask questions without interrupting. Try focusing on the person who is speaking to you and let it be about them. So much of our pre-social 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? Let go of that anxiety and let the focus be on the speaker. Be present to enjoy the moment and enjoy your holiday experience.
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Don’t believe us.. check out the Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People