Have you ever wondered  how some people seem to effortlessly connect with others, even strangers, and are seemingly able to easily create closeness with people?  Ever wondered why you have trouble doing the same thing?

Perhaps you can do it after all.  Connecting with others and establishing a shared feeling of mutual closeness consists of a few practical steps, which can be learned.  They include making and keeping eye contact, being willing to open up and reveal a few of the more private and personal parts of yourself, being inviting and receptive to another person sharing his or her innerself, taking an interest in someone else’s feelings and experiences, being able to empathize with—or stand inside—the other person’s emotions, and communicating that you believe in him or her, that you’re on her/his side.

That last one, communicating “I believe in you” to another human being, is what Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein call a “charismatic adult” in their book The Power of Resilience (Contemporary Books).  We all need and value such adults in our lives, so it’s easy to see why other people would gravitate toward, feel close to and want to be around such individuals.

Brooks and Goldstein offer some questions for you to ponder if you’d like to explore how you can increase your ability to be a charismatic adult to other people:

  • Who are five people in your life with whom you feel most connected?  In what ways to you feel connected to each?
  • What do you do to express this feeling of connectedness and to keep it alive?
  • What people—adult or children—would list you as a “charismatic” adult in their lives?
  • What do you say or do that would prompt them to call you charismatic?
  • Are there any people who would say that your behavior toward them is contrary to your being charismatic?  If so, what would lead them to believe this?
  • Who were the charismatic adults in your life when you were a child or adolescent?
  • What are examples of what these charismatic adults said or did that caused you to consider them to be charismatic?
  • If you are a parent, how often do you act as a charismatic adult with your children?
  • Who are the charismatic people in your life today?
  • What are the things they say or do which make them charismatic?
  • As you think about the quality of your relationships, what are one or two things you might change to feel more connected to others—and for others to feel more connected to you?

Empathetic people do not refrain from giving other people feedback, setting limits or speaking their mind.  Empathy is not giving in, losing yourself, or losing your thoughts and feelings.  But empathy does take other people’s feelings into consideration, and incorporates those feelings into your ability to be more compassionate toward them.

Having a positive relationship with someone who can provide support, encouragement, camaraderie, and optimism when you need it is everyone’s idea of a valued person   because they give of themselves.

Try being compassionate in your everyday connections with others, and assume the role of a charismatic adult.  We all need such people, and we all desire to be around those individuals.

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