A shorter blog this week about the topic of social relationships. Humans are social creatures and in our practice we see many people who report difficulties in these areas. They might not feel that they are connecting well with others or they might find that they are worrying excessively about what people think about them. When I was a student in Birmingham (a while ago now!) I can remember times when I didn’t find social relationships particularly easy. The pointers in this blog are little “hacks” that I have found invaluable when making friends with others. I hope you find them useful and if they work for you, please “pay it forward” and share them with your friends.
- When meeting people, it’s far better to be “interested” in them than trying to be “interesting” Everyone likes to talk about themselves and to have someone who is interested in what they have to say is socially cohesive. I have a friend who is really good at this. She listens to her friends closely and will then acknowledge what they have just said. Typically the conversation might go something like this. “You did so-and-so for the first time? That sounds really cool, how did you find it?”
- Make good eye contact and smile. Pretty obvious really but it works
- Stay present. This is really important in a world where we are bombarded by loads of external stimuli (e.g. mobile phones and other people). I like to focus on the other person but also to focus on some aspect of my body (such as my breath) in order to ground myself in the present moment. This helps to stop the mind wandering to other distractions. It also helps to quiet the internal mental chatter inside our heads.
- Study your friends who are good at social chit chat and notice what they do that works. You can then “hack” some of their strategies and try them out yourself.
- Know when the conversation is over and move on. There is a certain “energy” that exists between people conversing. This is fabulous to tap into, but after a while, you may well notice that that the conversation is drawing to a natural end. When you sense this, move on. It’s nothing personal, it’s one of the rules of social contact. A smile and ” Well, it’s been lovely talking to you,” usually works well.
If you are interested in learning more about social communication, I’d highly recommend this book by Garner Thomson which I found very helpful. It’s written with a health professionals’ focus and develops some of the ideas detailed above. Because we all communicate, everyone (health professionals and lay people) will find something helpful here:
I’ll be publishing another blog next week on the subject of safe sexual relationships, (and it won’t just be about contraception!) If there are any topics that you would like be to write about in the future, please let me know.
Have a great week 😀