Being someone who can relate to people is a trait that comes naturally to some, but it is also an attainable trait for socially awkward groups.
Relating to people creates genuine bonds, long-lasting relationships, and has many benefits for your professions too.
The ability to relate to others or empathy is vital to develop as it is the first step to creating meaningful conversations. On the other hand, the inability to empathize leads to blunt conversations and stagnant relationships. This is because human bonds are based on sympathy and understanding.
If you have been feeling a little detached from others or trying to develop this valuable trait, there are many ways to do so. In this article, we’ll talk about how to relate with others and build real relationships genuinely.
Importance of Relating to others
Let’s take a look at why being empathic is so important.
It resolves conflicts
Empathy enables us to put ourselves in others’ shoes. It means that we can understand why people say or behave the way they do. Once we know what makes a person act or when we see the world from their point of view, we learn to adjust the approach to react towards them.
Understanding others help us resolve conflicts by switching our approach. It makes us soften our tone and try to find solutions that benefit them too.
It builds trust
When we can relate to others and see their viewpoint, we learn to trust them as much as they trust us. You might be able to analyze their personality and shift your opinions to their liking. That way, the other person feels understood and will be more motivated to open up their emotions and be authentic.
It’s the key to collaboration
Empathy is key to building professional relationships too. When we try to understand the other party’s goals and ambitions, we immediately look forward to achieving it with them. We can use the power of empathy to gain useful insight into people’s problems and solutions and create meaningful collaborations.
When we try to relate to others by listening before giving our opinions, we learn more, understand, and gain valuable knowledge. By connecting to others before expecting them to relate to us, we create a comfort zone for them to open up. It also puts our guard down and makes us more open to accepting criticism and opinions.
Deeper connection and intimacy
Being able to relate to others creates an open ground for deeper connections. And when we can connect with someone without judging, it creates an intimate link that leads to honest relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
Enables us to care more
When we can listen, feel, and express how we think about certain things, it brings out humanity. We might not always agree on how people view the world or how they perceive situations, but being empathic enables us to care more.
Helps us heal
Imagine holding a grudge because someone said something that seems rude. But if we take the time to ask why, you might find that it was because of a bad day at work, and nothing personal.
You will realize how simple questions and an open mind can help you heal. So being able to relate to others in times like that can help everyone feel better sooner than later.
There are many positive benefits of being able to relate to others or show empathy. It makes others feel accepted, understood, and eliminates negative energy. Anyone who can show compassion before speaking or acting towards others is usually more likable and approachable.
However, empathy is hard to show if it is not an inherent nature, and we come off as selfish. Sometimes people lose friendships and even business deals because they can’t seem to see things from the other’s perspective.
If you have been in a situation where you need to be more empathic, whether to create new bonds, find love or solidify a business deal, we’re here to help you!
These few steps are tried and tested by many renowned psychologists and social anthropologists who specialize in human interactions. Just follow these steps whenever possible, and you will have a lasting impression on your friends, relationships, colleagues, and even strangers.
Tips on How to Relate to Others
Be all Ears
Many people forget this, but the key to relating to others is by listening. It is also the primary key to meaningful conversations and understanding.
There is an old saying that goes: “We have two ears and one mouth because we need to listen more and speak less.”
When someone is talking to share his/her view, listen. It might seem like a trivial subject to you, but it could mean a lot to them. If they open up and you dismiss it like it’s not important, they will get reluctant to talk to you again.
By listening, you are acknowledging their presence, and it makes them feel important.
Listening is also a way of showing your interest. You don’t even have to respond or provide solutions to their problems immediately.
Let them speak, cry, yell. When they have poured their hearts out, you will have a suitable answer, and they will be more grateful for getting their thoughts out than finding a solution.
Acknowledge their feelings
While listening to someone speak, make sure you let them know you are following what they are saying by acknowledging their feelings.
What’s worse than not being heard is feeling invisible. So never make a person feel like they are not seen or heard. It could crush their confidence and make them go back to their shell.
What you can do is nod and let them know that you hear their struggle or their joy. You don’t have to elaborate on what they are saying.
For example, if someone is venting to you about losing a job, your acknowledgment can sound like:
“That must be hard.”
”I can’t imagine what you must be going through!”
And don’t forget to add:
“Thanks for trusting me to share this. I’m here for you if there’s anything I can do.”
At this point, whatever you say will not make anything better immediately, but it will surely make them feel better when they look back on it.
Try to put yourself in their place
One of the best qualities of being able to relate to others is putting oneself in their place. You might be different in every way, but empathy is about feeling for others.
The thing is, you can’t really connect with someone without knowing how they feel. And what better way to do that than by placing yourself in their situation?
You might not have faced the same situation, but you can definitely relate some of your life experiences with their emotions.
For example, if someone lost a family member, you can envision what it must be like to lose your own. The loss, the pain, emotional trauma, and what you will do about it are things that others feel too!
Connecting your struggles and thinking about how you will feel is a great way to relate to others. You can tell them the same thing you would want to hear if you were going through the trauma.
Show them that you care
Not everyone is good with words or actions. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with the right thing to say, but no matter how hard it is, find the courage to show them you care in any way you can.
If you are at home, make them a cup of tea, or offer a glass of water if you cannot come up with words. You can offer to cook or maybe silently sit beside them if you have to.
These little gestures show that you care for their comfort even in hard times.
It means a lot to the other person because emotional pain does affect our physical well-being too. So they might not be the right mental state to perform basic activities like cooking or cleaning up the messy room.
It all comes down to how well you know that person. So if you know that chocolates elevate their mood, offer one. It could put a smile on their face, and even if they don’t respond well, they will eventually appreciate the gesture.
Be curious, and try to discover commonalities
We all have some type of prejudice when we meet new people. Tags relating to appearance, religious or political beliefs, and even personal food habits can deter us from appreciating individuality. To be empathic, you need to challenge these prejudices and look beyond the surface.
I remember a particular incident where I sat with a nun on the bus for 6 hours. At first, I thought it was going to be the most boring journey, but then she started asking me questions.
Through the conversation, I learned that she likes to play the drums and watch horror movies. In finding out that she was just a few years older than me and had the same struggles as I did, it was easier to open up to her. She found common ground where we could discuss horror movies and talk about boy bands.
I was immediately drawn to her openness and the way she listened to my stories with such intent. She also told me about the challenges she faced in the convent, and I was able to relate to her story immediately!
Thanks to those curious questions and the patient listening, I was able to make her feel relieved, and it gave me more confidence to talk to strangers.
While being empathic is all about paying more attention to the others, it can be overwhelming for both parties sometimes. To be genuinely empathic, you should also avoid certain things.
Here are some tips to avoid when trying to show your empathy
Never make it a downhill competition
While the person is opening up, don’t make them feel like their pain is smaller than yours or others. This invalidates their emotions, and that’s a wrong approach.
Instead, wait for your turn to tell your story if it is similar. Make sure they understand why you are telling them and make it quick. Remember, this isn’t about you; it’s about them.
Maybe the person has done or said some horrible things. But if they are talking to you about it, it’s because they feel safe and free. The worst thing you could do is telling them what monster they are! Instead, listen with an open mind, and remember they are talking to you so that they feel understood, not judged.
Don’t run ahead of the topic
It is most likely that a conversation starts with a pain point and then comprehending and then the solution.
When someone tells you what bothers them, make sure they pass through the emotional phase on their own. Once you have verbally unloaded a burden, then you can move the conversation forward. You can recap the story in brief and ask about the next move.
Move the conversation in this order:
“ I am sorry to hear that.”
“How are you feeling now?”
“Can I offer you this?”
“What are you going to do about it?’’
“If there’s anything I can do, I’d be glad to help.”
In life, you will meet different types of people. Some will make you paint a silver lining on your pain, while others lessen it. Some will dodge you, and others might scare you. The trick to being more relatable is to show the same empathy you will want for yourself.
Empathic people absorb a lot of emotions, so it is about having the emotional intelligence to say or do the right thing at the right time. So most of these tips will work, but some might not as people differ and situations change. But as long as you listen and reciprocate positive actions, you will surely win hearts and authentic connections.