“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” – Vincent van Gogh

Meeting people is easy. In addition to the traditional ways like friends, societies, and other social groups, we now have the internet too. And provided we’re prepared to get out of our comfort zones, it shouldn’t be too hard.

But getting along with the people we meet is another matter. It’s something a lot of us struggle with. Ultimately, it all comes down to developing social intelligence. That requires three things:

1. Relax

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey

Relationships aren’t meant to be taken seriously. So keep that in mind whenever it comes to approaching someone new. Don’t fold your arms, cross your legs, or scrunch up your face. Be approachable by keeping your body language open. Put your arms at your sides, stand up straight, and lean a little forward. Know that they will enjoy your company.

2. Listen

"There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves." – Albert Guinon

Most of us try too hard to come up with clever things to say. But instead of worrying about your words, why not shut up and take a minute to listen? Take an interest in who they are. It starts with remembering their names but goes a lot further. Ask a lot of questions and encourage them to talk about their lives and the things they’re going through. You’ll be surprised just how much diversity and depth lies beneath the surface.

3. Connect

“Living in a vacuum sucks.” – Adrienne E. Gusoff

The main am of relationships is to connect with the thoughts and feelings other people are having. Doing so starts with maintaining eye contact (without staring) but also goes a lot further. Oftentimes, rephrasing something they’ve said is a good way to show you understand the emotion behind the message. They’ll be far more inclined to connect with you if you’re prepared to show this level of commitment.

“Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.” – Margaret Millar

Choosing your words can make or break an encounter with someone else. But doing so does not have to be hard. Ultimately, it’s good to know that as long as you’re prepared to make an effort, there are friendly people all over the place just waiting to converse. Go up to them and try the following:

4. Be sincere

“A witty saying proves nothing.” – Voltaire

Don’t use the conversation to show off how knowledgeable you are about things nobody might even care about. And don’t use it as a chance to complain about other people or your problems. In other words, don’t talk for the sake of talking. If you don’t have anything good to say, you’re better off not speaking at all.

Instead, be as neutral as possible. Start with something small like a sincere compliment or even something as clichéd as the weather. When it comes to dealing with people you’re just getting to know, it’s best to save the potentially controversial topics and heated opinions for later.

“All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others.” – Cyril Connolly

5. Be interested

“My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity.” – George Bernard Shaw

Remember that the conversation is not about you, as much as you’d like that to be the case. Instead, make it about the other person. Ask people about their lives and take a real interest in what they have to say. When they ask the same of you, it’s time to make the connection. Start by finding common ground. Studies show we are actually more inclined to give money to charity if the person asking for it happens to share our name! So find whatever similarities you can and make them known. It could be your background, interests, or even where your grandparents grew up. Common ground is a great way to break the ice and build rapport.

6. Be open

“Compassion and love are not mere luxuries. As the source of both inner and external peace, they are fundamental to the continual survival of our species.” – Dalai Lama

Relationships are ultimately about opening up and connecting. You can’t do that if you’re simply focused on keeping things strictly professional. Take the time to get to know new people in your life. Slowly open up by sharing your life and encourage them to do the same. That builds trust. Sometimes you may hit a wall, in which case it might be advisable to simply keep things light. Even relationships like that have their place. But wherever possible, try to find a connection and let it grow. Show love and support because that’s what we’re here for.

Author's Bio: 

About Me

I have been an active writer for over a decade and published my first book in August 2007. This marked the start of Varsity Blah, a personal development blog that has now received almost 250,000 hits from over 120 countries worldwide. This article is one of almost 100 posts that were compiled into my upcoming book, which was reviewed on Authonomy.com: “This is some very insightful stuff… The way the book is structured, paired with your capabilities of drawing great narrative, leads this on the right path. This cleanses the mind.”

For more free chapters and special reports, please email editor@varsityblah.com.

About My Services

Graduating from college with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano has given me a uniquely creative approach to all I do. As a personal development copywriter, I specialise in creating content on improving health, relationships, finances, and career. This includes writing and editing articles, papers, blog posts, web copy, and much more. My professional background in marketing (as well as my extensive experience as one of the first external bloggers for the World Advertising Research Centre) means I can also provide case studies, company profiles, and whitepapers focused on branding, communications, digital media, and market research.

For more information on the services I provide and to discuss your project needs, please email editor@varsityblah.com.