This 1 underrated skill is necessary to have better conversations and connections

Shutterstock

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a “nonversation,” you know it doesn’t feel good.

The person you’re talking to isn’t fully engaged. Their eyes are focused on something across the room. They don’t respond when you stop speaking. Or maybe they glance down at their cell phone every 30 seconds.

On the flip side, you’ve also likely had a conversation with someone who is full of charisma. That person is magnetic. The conversation is engaging. Any interaction with them leaves you feeling heard and empowered.

There’s a simple explanation for this difference:

Being present makes people feel seen, heard, and validated

Put simply, being present is the practice of emptying your mind so that you can be fully aware of your current surroundings. You’re completely focused on the person in front of you.

Regardless of who you’re talking to—be it the CEO of your company, an engineer working on a big project, or the janitor mopping the bathroom—you’re truly listening to the other person and engaging them in meaningful conversation.

If you aren’t present in conversations, however, the interaction can feel empty and cold. The person you’re talking with can feel disrespected, hurt, and underappreciated. That’s because it’s extremely off-putting when you realize another person isn’t mentally there with you.

Carl W. Buehnervery said it best: “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

When you connect with others through mindful conversations, you have the power to make strong, lasting relationships in every area of your life.

If you’re not listening, you can miss out on details that create a connection

The ability to make others feel heard and validated can be more impactful than what you communicate through any brand, product, or service.

I see so many young entrepreneurs today who are passionate about promoting their companies. So they start conversations with, “Hey, let me show you what my brand and my product can do for you.” They babble for hours about their companies, but they don’t take the time to listen in return.

But when you’re not present during an interaction, you lose out on hearing important details. You don’t recognize that the person you’re talking to has a dog and like to vacation in South America. You don’t realize what problems they’re having with their business and how you can potentially help.

Missing details means missing opportunities. People notice if you’re not fully engaging with them. So the next time they have something to share, they likely won’t be sharing it with you.

Personally and professionally, I’ve found the stronger connections I have with people, the more successful I am. I’m able to understand the details of problems to come up with solutions. I’m able to pitch ideas because I’ve listened to someone’s needs. Even sales improve because I’m taking the time to build relationships.

Without the details, it’s difficult to create a positive impression and fully understand a situation.

You have to work to be present

I admit that it can be challenging to create meaningful, personal connections. Doing so requires focus, intention, and mindful interaction with those around you. If you struggle to be present, try these tips next time you’re talking with someone.

1. Practice being mindful. When you apply the practice of being present to every area of your life—personal relationships, work, sports, and even alone time—it becomes second nature. Eventually, it becomes a habit.

2. Ask questions. Get details about peoples’ family, interests, travels, and work. You’ll learn unique details about their lives and build rapport.

3. Make eye contact. The ability to meet and hold someone’s gaze is one of the most powerful forms of human connection. When someone’s gaze shifts away from us, we intuitively feel their attention has also shifted away from us. But when you look someone in the eye, you make them feel seen.

The more you work on being in the moment, the calmer and more connected you become

Being fully present helps calm your mind and reduce your anxiety when connecting with others.

If you’re constantly focused on the past or future, you’re putting yourself through a ton of unnecessary stress. You’re over-analyzing a past conversation with a co-worker or stressing about your long to-do list after work. You’re using so much mental effort to toggle between your past, present, and future problems.

But when you focus on the present moment, you immediately feel a sense of peace. You don’t feel like you have to rush to whatever’s next, which quiets your subconscious and frees up mental space. You can enjoy what’s happening right now.

That sense of calm gives you the time to get to know people on a deeper level. Because being mindful it’s just about becoming a better listener. It also about being a better leader, a better friend, a better partner.

And it’s all thanks to the power of being present.

This article first appeared on Minutes Magazine.