How to build closer relationships

How to build closer relationships

via TED Ideas by Kara Cutruzzula

Advice from 7 TED speakers on creating better connections.

“Why don’t I feel closer to my parent/sibling/friend/co-worker?”

It’s a question that many of us have pondered at some point, and it usually comes out of our desire to feel more connected to the real VIPs in our life: that is, the people we care about, the people we share DNA with and/or the people we spend a lot of time with. There are a number of reasons — such as timing, competing commitments, differences of opinion, geography — why emotional distance can creep into the most important bonds. Here’s advice from seven TED speakers to help bridge some of them. Warning to the emotionally squeamish: Yes, we’re entering touchy-feely territory. But we can promise that none of these tips will hurt, and they could even make your relationships stronger.

1. Accept imperfection.

Brené Brown counseled patients for a decade before she began doing research. The area she chose to study? Connection. As she explains in one of her TED Talks, “By the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realize is that connection is why we’re here.”

After conducting her interviews on connection, she divided subjects into two rough groups: those who had a strong sense of love and belonging and those who did not. What did people in the former group have in common? One of the most significant traits was “the courage to be imperfect,” says Brown, professor of social work at the University of Houston. “They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others.”

Think about it: At times when you’ve felt closely bonded to someone, how much were you worrying about coming across in a certain way? Conversely, at moments when you’ve been focused on someone else’s shortcomings — or your own — how close have you felt to that person? This insight can apply to different kinds of relationships, from your family to your professional colleagues. When you’re at work, for example, try to notice when a critical inner voice is keeping you from connecting with others, and also recognize how much you might gain by revealing your vulnerability.

Watch Brene Brown’s TEDxHouston talk here:

2. Show up.

It’s not just your laptop — you probably have too many open browser tabs in your mind, too, says life coach Charnita Arora. If you doubt that, recall your last few encounters with other people you’d like to be closer to. Then, suggests Arora, ask yourself: “Do the people I love feel loved?”

The next time you’re with someone who’s important to you, Arora says to remind yourself: “I will spend these five minutes completely offering my true presence to this person.” Listen to what they’re saying, and try to refrain from judging or rehearsing what you’ll say next. Look them directly in the eyes. How do they look compared to the last time you met? What about the first time?

This is no five-minute miracle cure for achieving intimacy. After all, you can’t control other people’s browser tabs or anything else that’s going on in their minds or their lives. But you can still bring your whole self to the moments that matter.

Watch Charnita Arora’s TEDxThaparUniversity talk here:

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