I used to be a horrible listener. I was so afraid of what a woman thought of me that I was always in my head trying to micromanage the entire conversation.
I would stutter.
I asked dumb things like “What is your favorite kind of horse?”
Now, as a life and authentic relating coach, circling facilitator and writer, I get asked a lot by guys on how they can have better connections with women. These six simple tips are the most powerful I’ve experienced in the past few years.
And keep in mind that they apply to ANYONE, not just women. So read on and get connecting.
1. Be fully present.
I was that guy. I would be sitting with a beautiful woman in a café, but my eyes would dart around the room at all the other ladies passing by. One day a woman friend said to me “You know, it’s totally obvious you’re scoping out all those women. It really has me feeling ugly and not appreciated.”
My heart sank. I had no idea that I was creating that effect on her. Like most guys, I thought I was being discreet with my Ray-Bans.
Make sure your attention is on the woman in front of you. Not on trying to figure out what cool thing to say or what to do next. Do your best to be present to and aware of what’s going on in your body, her body and also the energetic connection between you and her. Create that magic bubble where it feels as if there is no one else but the two of you.
2. Actually give a sh#t about her.
Whether you just met her two minutes or 12 years ago, actually care about her and genuinely want to get to know about her world. Yes, own your physical attraction to her, but also bring your heart to the interaction. Connect with your curiosity about who she is—her dreams, fears, insecurities, quirks and gifts.
Be more concerned about the quality of the connection rather than faking interest as a way to get somewhere or to get something out of her. She is not a means to an end (sex, a number, a date). She is a world to explore. So is the connection.
3. Appreciate and celebrate who and where she is right now.
A woman crying used to scare me. I would get anxious and not know what to do. One day I bumped into my good female friend in the street. She started talking about her breakup. I just stood with her on the sidewalk and gently listened as she shared her story with teary eyes. After 20 minutes, she said “Wow, that was so healing for me. Thank you so much for listening.” I finally got it. Me simply being with her was more effective than me trying to fix or distract her.
Whatever comes up for her in your interaction, celebrate it. Something fun and juicy comes up? Dive in and celebrate that. She mentions something emotional or uncomfortable from her past? Stay in the moment with her.
Don’t try to change the subject to get to a “happier” topic. Never try to “fix it” for her. If anything, ask her to say more about it so you can explore it together. If you actually care about her, then you want to get to know ALL of her, not just the bubbly, sexy, and socially presentable side.
4. Share the impact she’s having on you.
It’s easy to think that it’s all about being a great interviewer. That’s true if you’re trying to get a good story out of the woman. But if you want a deeper connection with her, then you have to let her know how she’s impacting you, in the moment.
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that women want to FEEL you. They want to know that you are right there WITH them, not mentally floating away thinking about the ballgame. Communicating is just exchanging ideas, connecting is a visceral experience of being in relationship with someone. An easy sentence stem to use is “When you said _____, I felt _____.”
5. Slow down and milk the silence.
My mind thinks fast and my mouth talks fast. Not ideal for most conversations. My big aha came when I started to chill out, practice just being with her. I gave up trying to impress her with my cool questions. And ironically, I actually enjoyed myself a lot more.
Silences are only uncomfortable when you resist them. Got nothing to say? Just take a big deep breath down into your balls. Trust me, it will have an impact. You can even be honest, “I’m really wanting to connect more with you, but right now I’m drawing a blank on what to say.” See what happens. Connection happens in the spaces in between the words. Keep the lid on and let the mojo water boil.
6. Use humor mindfully.
I sometimes have the awkward habit of smiling when I see a woman in a vulnerable emotion. It’s as if I want to ease her mood by cheering her up. I’m doing #2 but not #3. And when I do that I can instantly feel the connection drop away. My practice now is to speak the moment, “Wow, I’m seeing you in this vulnerable place and I’m not sure what to do right now. And I care about you. How can I best support you right now?”
Nothing is sexier and inspiring than hearing a woman giggle her ass off at something you just said. But when you use it to release tension or to avoid an uncomfortable topic, it destroys the connection.
One last thing. While it’s good to remember these tips, don’t let them become a list of tricks you use to “get the woman”. Practice embodying them so that they become a part of your natural relating style and it extends to everyone, not just those you’re dating. All your relationships will be that much richer for it.
This piece originally appeared on GoodMenProject.com