Think about the best relationship builders you know. Other than their ability to connect better with others, what do they have in common?
Whether introverted or extroverted (they can be both), good relationships builders are likely to share common traits such as:
There is also an excellent chance that they take care of themselves by eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. That’s because great connectors know that their most important relationship is the relationship they have with themselves—and that it is simply not possible to build a community of positive, like-minded people without feeling good about yourself.
Here is one more secret: Most great relationship builders take a daily break from the digital “noise” that surrounds them.
The Mind-Body Connection
Every day, our devices bombard us with information that fills our brains and chips away at our bodies’ ability to deal with stress and connect better with others. Fortunately, meditation—sometimes referred to as mindfulness—offers multiple benefits for physical health and mental well-being. With a quiet mind and a sharp focus, you are in a better position to build stronger relationships and make more meaningful connections.
(If you are not the “meditation type,” think of it as hitting the Restart button on your computer. It temporarily clears your screen and provides a break for your brain that can make the difference between a good day and a bad day.)
A 10-Minute Practice
From alternative health-care practitioners to Harvard scholars, a growing body of research indicates that the simple act of looking inward for just a few minutes a day can reduce stress and anxiety while boosting energy, creativity, and physical and emotional resilience.
Fortunately, meditation is not complicated. It doesn’t require fancy equipment or years of practice. You just need a quiet place where you can close your eyes and turn your attention inward. Here are some simple steps for getting started:
1. Set aside 10 minutes every day.
2. Find a quiet place where you can sit upright; keep your spine straight and tall.
3. Eliminate any potential distractions (phones, pets, etc.).
4. Start by observing any physical sensations. What do you feel?
5. Next, notice your thoughts and feelings without engaging them. Picture them flashing by on a movie screen or floating down a stream.
6. When your mind begins to wander (it will!), focus on the movement of your breath.
7. After 10 minutes, open your eyes and gently move your fingers and toes before standing.
Like anything worth doing, mindfulness takes practice. Be patient with yourself. The more you practice, the easier it gets and the quieter your mind becomes.
Make Yourself a Priority
Does making a commitment to your own well-being take effort? It does. But here’s the thing: The inner strength and energy that we feel when we take care of ourselves makes us more interesting to others. We stand taller, smile more, initiate conversations, and make eye contact. In other words, we connect better with others because we become someone other people want to connect with.
When you make yourself a priority, you become a priority for other people, too.
About the author: Ellen Galvin is the co-founder and curriculum developer at The Galvanizing Group, a learning and development company helping high-performance companies and teams develop essential business skills and transforming the way people build and maintain relationships.
This article appears as a guest blog post on OpenSesame.com. For more ideas on connecting with your best self and generating the positive energy and enthusiasm that leads to better workplace relationships, visit The Galvanizing Group’s library of interactive online courses offered through OpenSesame, including Connect with Your Best Self and Practice Mindfulness to Build Better Relationships.