Whether it be in a conversation, at the office, or at school, it is important to work towards emotionally including everybody.
While this can seem daunting and challenging, it is completely worth it. A recent study found that “almost half of Americans feel alone, and younger generations feel the most isolated.” If you want to make an immediate and important change in your community, inclusion is one of the most effective ways to do so.
Here are 5 steps you can take to emotionally include someone.
1. After Sharing Yourself, Focus On The Other Person With Questions
Especially when I was younger, around middle school age, I was very awkward and did not know how to make friends. However, my older brother always did a great job at getting me out of my shell. I remember him and I going to play basketball or get ice cream and the thing he was best at was pointing the conversation towards something I liked. He would ask about the latest indie music (the music I liked at the time), or about the Golden State Warriors or anything else he knew I liked, and that is what made me most comfortable and made me feel closest to him.
According to an article “6 Underlying Benefits of Asking Questions”, some of the most important reasons we ask questions are to learn, understand, and to be open. When we ask questions it shows that we want to learn about the person, and this interests them and makes them feel included and cared about. By asking questions, we get to know more about them, they feel more comfortable and most importantly feel included and that emotional connection grows stronger.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and encourage everybody in the group to ask questions. The key is to make them feel comfortable and like a part of the group, so if everyone is asking everyone else questions, the awkwardness dissipates.
2. Find Common Ground
To get an emotional connection with somebody is not easy, but you can start it by asking yourself what does this person enjoy? Is it watching movies? Sports? Fortnite? Whatever it may be, do that together or talk about it with them. When you can find something they enjoy doing or talking about, they will feel more comfortable and the emotional connection will be strengthened. One of my good friends now has two younger siblings that I wanted to be friends with and connect with. So what I did was asked them what they enjoyed, and kept asking until I found something we could both talk about: Superhero movies. Now that we have found that common ground, it breaks down the wall and allows us to connect.
This article, titled “How To Connect And Find Common Ground In Any Situation”, goes in depth and shows specific situations on how to go about finding that common ground.
No two people are alike, but for the most part, all of us have at least one thing in common with one another. Look for these ways which you can relate with someone, so that regardless of differences the relationship can be strengthened.
It is hard to connect or include someone when they aren’t enjoying what they’re doing. But, when someone enjoys what they’re doing, they let down their walls and can connect and join a group easier.
3. Encourage the Others In The Group To Take Responsibility
Spur along the peers in the group to get involved and show responsibility, by working together. Giving a group a hands-on assignment in teams helps them form bonds with one another, and eventually leads to them accepting one another.
Include activities that people of many backgrounds like, this will make them work together and support one another.
For example at E-Soccer, even being a coach is tiring and can seem like there are disengaged kids. There have been so many times where I have seen that if I let the kids at E-Soccer lead each other and encourage them to make sure everybody is participating (e.g. making them all touch the ball before shooting a shot), the kids feel cared about because their peers care about them. If you remind them that the focus is about having fun together and including everybody, they will act on it and help include all of the kids.
4. Actively Listen To Them
I worked in an ice cream shop for two years in high school and I saw for myself the difference in the conversations and engagement between all types of people of all ages, and specifically the effect of not really listening in a conversation. Whether you’re distracted by your own thoughts or your phone, it doesn’t matter.
This article, titled, “Active Listening”, talks about how this skill can be acquired, and the steps to take to get there. This includes body language as well as verbal signs of an active listener. We all need to listen. This starts with you and then will trickle down to the rest of your group, and will have them actively listening to one another. This seems to be a major issue with people today. They’re constantly distracted with their phones, what happened on Facebook, but it doesn’t matter!
This person talks to you, and you want to have an emotional connection. Leave your phone alone. You have to be an active listener. I know that everybody, even children, can easily tell when someone isn’t really listening. When somebody isn’t really listening and engaged in the conversation, it kills the momentum and leaves you excluded from any conversation or social situation. So another great way to engage in conversation and have them feel included and cared about, listen.
5. Listen To Remember
This step goes with actively listening, but is crucially important for keeping up inclusion in a group or one to one setting. People, even kids, feel much more connected to you if you remember what someone says about themselves. Remembering a small detail, even their name, can go a long way to continue to emotionally connect someone.
Even the other day, when I went to go get pizza with a couple of my friends, they remembered that I don’t usually like ice in my water cup. So, when they got water for me, they didn’t put any ice in it. Simple and small gestures like these make me feel very cared about. If you want to make someone feel included, part of a team, and cared about, remember some of these small details, it will go a long way.