Here are five strategies to begin connecting with people around us today.
The Jewish sage Rabbi Shammai used to counsel “receive everyone with a cheerful face.” Greeting others with a warm “hello” can alter an entire conversation, transforming any interaction into a chance to truly connect with another person.
Judge others favorably.
Remember that we don’t know all the circumstances behind another person’s actions. Perhaps that difficult person you’re dealing with is ill, or has a problem at home.
Examine your own actions.
When I was growing up, my mother always used to tell me that people see in others what they know to be true of their selves: we’re all more attuned to challenges that we have, and often have a shorter fuse about issues we personally struggle with. Years later, I found the source of this advice was none other than the Talmud. The world is like a mirror, in which the faults we see in other people are meant to remind us to address them in ourselves.
Make the first move.
Sometimes the dividing line between people we think of as friends and strangers whom we don’t care about can be frighteningly thin. In some circumstances, all it takes is an invitation to meet up to transform and acquaintance into someone we truly care about and are connected to.
See challenges as opportunities.
Judaism teaches that we’re each given specific circumstances to help us grow. Once we start looking at our setbacks, tough situations, and even the difficult people in our lives as chances to train ourselves to be better people, we’re often better able to handle them.
Try looking at the obstacles in your life as opportunities to transcend your circumstances, to react with grace, and to come closer to the person you are truly capable of being.