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3 Steps to Build Authentic Connections

When I grew up in India, I remember that our house always used to be full of people. Every other day, one or many of my uncle’s friends used to come home. There was so much openness and honesty in their conversations.

Today, irrespective of which country we live in, life has changed significantly compared to the previous generation. We are busier (or at-least we think so), have more independence we are faced with so many choices in front of us. Many of us have a stronger relationships with our electronic gadgets than we do with actual people :) I know I have been guilty of that.

I have craved to have more meaningful relationships in my life, yet unsure of how to start. Have you ever felt that way?

In the past few years as I underwent the coach training experience, I stumbled upon the following key insights that has helped me develop more authentic connection with people around me.

1. Start by connecting with self

The way we connect with ourselves informs our connection with others.

The first step to develop authentic connections with others is to connect deeply within ourselves.

Not too long ago, I struggled to connect with people around me. I was always searching for deeper connections be it at work or in social circles. Yet, I found myself talking more about sports, politics and movies and less about myself.

The reason was that I was insecure. I felt insecure talking about real stuff because I did not want other’s judgement to reinforce my own harsh judgement of myself. I had the belief that I was not worthy enough and that I was somehow lesser than people around me.

Over time, aided with tons of love from my loved ones and importantly myself, I could get over my limiting belief and embrace the truth. I could fully acknowledge that I was indeed worthy and that I could embrace real and authentic connection with others. With this new belief, I could address the next fear, the fear of vulnerability.

2. Embrace being vulnerable

Vulnerability leads to authenticity and real conversations

It feels vulnerable talking and revealing what we are feeling about ourselves. We are unsure how the other person will receive it and there is always the fear of feeling judged. The key to vulnerability is trust.

There have been times when I have shared my deepest of insecurities with people who did not quite deserve that trust. But over time, I realized that the pain of not being to have honest conversations was not worth it. I began to trust in people again and I began to risk being vulnerable again.

Now, people come in different shapes and sizes. There may be some who may not feel comfortable listening to you getting vulnerable. Yet, there are so many people who are craving for realness in their relationships. When you begin taking the step towards being vulnerable, you will be able to find out the right folks with whom you can be yourself.

As Brene Brown says, Vulnerability is Courage. Are there significant risks involved in terms of feeling emotionally exposed? Yes. Yet, there is a certain freedom we can experience, from the act of vulnerability itself. It can be freeing and just sharing your deepest feelings can lift a load off your shoulders. Most importantly, when you begin to embrace vulnerability, it can alter the lens by which you view your world.

3. Practice Non-Judgment with yourself and others

Just as you are your natural self, your non judgement allows others to be their real selves

When we begin to demonstrate vulnerability, we stop looking at the world as black and white and we begin to develop more compassion in our hearts. More compassion for ourselves and more compassion for others.

With compassion comes non judgment. When we experience non judgement and compassion in the eyes of our friend, it can be a moving and very human experience. It automatically allows us to drop our own judgments and just listen and connect with the human being in front of us. It allows us to be free and be ourselves, even as we experience the magic of authentic connection.

The process to connect authentically can be messy but so totally worth it.

At first, it is quite likely that it will feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, we don’t want to connect with our authentic self, even with people we consider good friends. But if you are someone who craves real relationships, just trust the discomfort is temporary. As you begin to take baby steps and then some more, it gets easier.

When we can connect with a deeper part within us, embrace vulnerability and practice non-judgment, the magic that is authentic connection will happen.

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