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We are wired to crave human connection, our relationships with friends, family, and co-workers bringing us feelings of happiness and fulfillment. However, if you find that you are struggling to make meaningful, lasting connections, don’t be discouraged – there are steps you can take to turn this around!

The ability to connect with others is a true testament to people skills at work, testing your ability to attract, converse with, connect and understand the people around you. For some, these are skills that will come easily and naturally, however, many of us have to work to make this happen. If your people skills currently fall a little shirt, you’re not doomed to your life alone! With a little hard work and dedication, these skills can be developed and improved.

Learn to create deeper and more meaningful connections with these 10 tips:

#1 – Put away the electronic devices.

While electronic devices like smartphones and tablets help us to connect with people all over the world, they may actually be preventing you from making close connections in person. Don’t allow yourself to become so distracted by your phone that you fail to be ‘in the moment’ with a friend or acquaintance. If you are having a face to face conversation, put the devices away, out of sight, and leave them there.

#2 – Understand that there is a time and place for technology.

While human interaction is a necessary part of our mental health, there is also a time and place for technology in our lives. Pay attention to what boosts your overall mood and what leaves you feeling exhausted and discover the balance that works best in your life. If you realize that you need a night off every week just to curl up with Netflix and not see anyone, then doing so may help you feel refreshed enough that you actually end up making more meaningful connections.

#3 – Make a point of remembering their name.

It may seem like a little point, but relationship experts say that this is super important. When you are first meeting someone, ask for their name. Listen carefully when they give it. If you’re someone that struggles to remember names, there are a number of tricks you can use to improve this skill. Use their name several times in the conversation or try associating it with something about the person.

#4 – Pay attention to your own feelings and instincts.

While most people worry about what the other person is doing, saying or feeling, they often overlook their own thoughts, feelings, and instincts. The truth is, however, if you’re not comfortable in the situation, it’s going to prevent you from connecting with them. Furthermore, your intuition may be telling you that something is off for a reason! Pay attention – it could be trying to prevent you from being hurt in the long run.

#5 – Don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve.

You may think that you are simply protecting yourself early on, but people can actually pick up on whether you’re open to connecting or closed off from the world. You can say all the right things, but if they believe that you’re closed to the idea of becoming friends they are likely going to pass you by. It may be scary, vulnerability often is, but the only way to truly connect is by opening your heart to others.

#6 – Let it happen naturally, don’t rush the process.

When you meet someone new, don’t try to force the friendship. Trying to rush the process can make it awkward and overwhelming, sending them running for the hills. Instead, take everything step by step. Allow it to happen naturally, as your relationship slowly grows and evolves.

#7 – Find a way to add value to their life.

One harsh reality that you need to accept early on about people is that we are generally interested only in the things that benefit us directly. Therefore, if you want someone to want to get to know you, you need to add value to their life. It could be that you engage in knowledgeable conversations about common interests, or that you can work together towards a common goal, leveraging each of your own strengths.

#8 – Get out and meet people in the real world.

If you stay holed up in your home, you are setting yourself up for failure when it comes to expanding your social circle. Why? New friends aren’t going to come knocking on your door. You need to get out and put yourself in situations in which you will meet someone new, like going to the mall, hanging out at the park or taking part in community events.

#9 – Show genuine interest in the other person, it’s not all about you.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to put on a show for the other person, putting all your effort into trying to appear ‘better’ to attract people to you. The real secret to attracting and connecting with people has nothing to do with you at all. Instead, invest that time and energy into showing interest in the other person. Everyone wants to feel noticed and appreciated.

#10 – Make a point of practicing empathy.

Taking the last point to the next step, don’t just show interest in getting to know them, make a point of identifying and acknowledging how they are feeling. Ask questions, show concern where necessary and offer support when you can. People are more likely to open up and trust someone that demonstrates care and empathy.

Image via Business Insider