Do you sometimes feel that you struggle to open up to people? Do you fear that if you open up to someone, the person might make fun of you or use this information against you? Do you think you’ll get vulnerable after sharing what you really feel?
It is completely normal to feel this way. If you don’t want to share your inner thoughts with people, it’s completely up to you. What you think and feel is the amalgam of your experience, past, and knowledge. It is completely alright to defend it and to keep it private. Maybe, being private is somehow helping you make better decisions, keeping you away from heartbreaks, or helping you grow the professional ladder.
But if the inability to open up to people is suffocating you and making it impossible to form meaningful relationships, then it’s time to try and gradually open up to people you like. Humans are social creatures, and sharing and bonding with each other is important for health and mental well-being.
Here are the effective ways of opening up to people and forming meaningful connections.
Connect through Mutual Hobbies
Find the people who share your interest and passions. Hobbies are the best way to find like-minded people to open up about your passions and form mutually satisfying companionship. Do you like reading? – join a book club. Do you enjoy the outdoors? – go to hiking, backpacking, and camping events.
You have to go a little out of your comfort zone. Sharing the same interest is a great conversation starter. You can introduce yourself, ask a question, share opinions, or give a compliment. People like compliments.
Questioning is a powerful conversational tool to befriend people. Avoid Yes or No questions. Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going. Ask specific questions like “Hey, I saw you’re reading XYZ book. What do you think about ABC’s character, or What do you think ABC is going to do next?”
Show genuine interest in what they have to say about the topic. Mirror back the gestures and words. It’s very important to be affirmative. Give your insights and opinions on the topic. Next time you meet them, you’ll get more comfortable striking conversation and sharing your thoughts while feeling relaxed. Gradually, you will find it easy to open up to them.
Say It in The Right Way
Certain topics can be sensitive to talk about. But those topics may matter to you. If you want to share your opinion, there is an easy way out. Right before answering, hold your words back for the next five seconds. Pretend that you’re thinking or drink water from a glass. You’ll get the time.
Within these five seconds, your brain will re-frame the sentence in a way that it will sound more interesting and less controversial. More than the words, it’s the tone that matters. Try not to completely sugarcoat it; otherwise, your thoughts won’t get through the words properly.
Remember that you’re toning the sentence down because the topic is sensitive, and the person you’re talking to matters. Pick your battles wisely. You wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s sentiments just to prove that your point is right. Certainly, it will let the person know that you have the knowledge on the topic and you’re the person to whom they can openly talk.
Allow the Connection
Once you have found the person and started talking and feeling comfortable, now is the time to open up properly. From your experience, you would know how the person acts and reacts to your ideas.
Let people accept you and connect to you the way you are. Accept people and their unique personalities. Be vulnerable and let others be vulnerable with you. Opening up to others is not just about sharing sadness and vulnerability. Share your ideas, joy, and feelings of all colors and hues with the people you love.
Self-awareness is very important when you want to open up to people. Understanding your personality quirks and attachment style would help you connect with the right people and form satisfying relationships.
Ayush Henry is a prolific copywriter. He is a professional soft skills trainer known for his boundless energy and enthusiasm. Ayush holds MBA in hospitality and a Master of Arts in English. He indulged himself in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2010.