Some time ago I wrote articles on Why I am Lonely part 1 and part 2. We are finally getting to part 3. Part 1 talked about shame as a reason for loneliness. Part 2 talked about low self-image as a cause for loneliness. Part 3 is all about lack of communication skills. The inability to communicate effectively with others can obviously create the feeling of being lonely while being surrounded by people.
We teach two communication skills in SFT. One is listening and the other is assertiveness. We define listening as an honest attempt to become the other person. Assertiveness we define as getting your needs met without offending others. Out of those skills the listening skill is the more important for making connections with people in the group. As James 1:19 says, “Be quick to hear, and slow to speak.” This is a key to addressing conflict and making connections with people we have never met before. One effective way to be quick to hear is asking questions.
In order to understand what questions to ask there must be an understanding of the underlying attitude that is required to make connections. That attitude is to be interested in others, not interesting to others. Imagine hearing a stranger say that he likes to fish. Someone trying to be interesting makes statements about oneself like, “I love fishing. I caught a 6 lb bass just the other day.” Being interested asks questions like, “Where do you like to fish? What do you usually fish for?” What is great about asking questions and being genuinely interested in others is people see you as interesting. Another benefit is that you can talk with anybody about anything even though you may have no knowledge of the topic, and they are going to do all the work.
Once the attitude is established one must know how to start. Simple things like, “Hello how are you? My name is . . . ” are great ways to start. Other ways can be talking about things in the environment either general like the weather or specific like complementing something someone is wearing. Be aware that complementing attire with the opposite sex can be taken as being “hit on” and not work in your favor. Another basic starter is the F.O.R.M. method which means family, occupation, recreation, and money. I usually start with occupation especially since men often identify with occupation as identity. Money is really for people in sales who are qualifying prospects and may be considered rude to ask about when connecting with others in non-sales communication.
One more thing to remember when connecting and asking questions that it is not about being perfect at it. People start with different levels of comfort in regard to communicating. Some people can take this information and run with it and others may have to start with only saying hello as strangers cross paths with them, that is until they get more comfortable asking more questions and connecting. It also means some will have to do things that are out of their comfort zone in order to grow in communication skills. This is part of the growth process and shutting down the feeling of loneliness in a crowd. I look forward to seeing your comments on your growth from the information in this article.