How much time to do you spend really connecting with people? And how present are you when you are doing so? The ability to really connect with another individual is a skill that like any other skill has to be continually practiced. Listening plays a key role in connecting. Many times when we think we are listening we are only hearing. Our brain is actually formulating our own responses and preparing to share our thoughts instead of paying attention to what the person is saying.

Listening with intent engages a different part of brain than just hearing. Studies show that if you really pay attention to what another individual is saying then your brain will start to fire the same neurons as the other person. Essentially your brain will sync with their brain which in turn will increase your empathy for them. Increasing your level of empathy will drive you to have more meaningful connections with others.

So, the next time you’re engaged in a conversation, try not rushing to say your next thought. Really just try to listen with an open mind and experience how different the conversation feels. At first this will take some getting used to because it will feel as though the conversation is in slow motion. But over time this practice will lead you to have deeper connections to people you engage with.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey