By Ellen Galvin
Think about the best relationship builders you know. What do they have in common?
Whether introverted or extroverted (they can be both), good relationship 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 one 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. 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 having a good or a bad day.)
A 10-minute practice
A growing body of research, from alternative healthcare practitioners to Harvard scholars, 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, the practice of meditation is not complicated. It doesn’t require fancy equipment or years of training. 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, keeping your spine straight.
3. Eliminate any potential distractions (phones, pets, etc.).
4. Start by observing any physical sensations.
5. Next, notice your thoughts and feelings but resist the urge to engage them. Picture them flashing by on a movie screen or floating down a stream.
6. When your mind begins to wander (and it will!), focus on the movement of your breath.
7. When you feel enough time has passed, open your eyes and gently move your fingers, toes, and limbs before standing.
Like anything else worthwhile, meditation takes practice. Be patient with yourself. The more you do it, 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 become someone other people want to connect with.
When you make yourself a priority, you become a priority for other people, too.
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.
About the Author: Ellen Galvin is co-founder and curriculum developer at The Galvanizing Group, a learning and development company helping high-performance companies and teams develop essential business skills, transforming the way people build and maintain relationships.