5 Tips to Spark Deeper Connection

Simple habits for building better rapport in work/life relationships.

In a fast-paced world where genuine connection seems increasingly rare, embracing the art of building meaningful relationships has become an essential skill. Whether in personal or professional settings, sparking deeper connections requires conscious effort and a willingness to genuinely engage. Here are five tips that can help you foster genuine rapport and create lasting bonds with those around you.

1. Listen

You already know the 80/20 rule of listening: spend 80% of the time listening and only 20% of the time talking. If we listen carefully, people will tell us exactly who they are and what they want, need, and like. So practice listening. If you find yourself making assumptions, thinking about what you want to say, hearing what you want to hear, judging, fidgeting, or getting distracted by your own agenda, you’re not listening actively. (More on listening here)

2. Ask questions. 

Ask questions, particularly the open-ended kind. These are the best questions because they get people talking and do the heavy lifting for you. Questions like: what brings you here, how/where do you spend your free time?

3. Pay Attention.

Pay attention to your attention. Limit distractions, like having your phone out. The greatest gift you can give somebody is your attention.

4. Remember.

Remember what you see and hear. Nothing makes people feel worse than forgetting their name or a detail they just told you. This takes practice because we often think about what we want to say next and don’t truly hear what our conversation partner has to say.

5. Open up.

When you see or hear something you share in common, relate it back to your conversation partner. Shared experiences create connection, especially if you find those uncommon commonalities. Open up about shared interests and aspirations that are unexpected and unique.

The Power of Uncommon Commonalities

In his book Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant highlights that similarities matter most when they’re rare, “We bond when we share uncommon commonalities, which allow us to feel that we fit in and stand out at the same time,” he says. “Uncommon commonalities are the golden ticket to instant bonding. When two people share a common experience that’s unique to them, it creates a bond that rivals those forged by sharing commonplace interests.”

Here’s another way to think about unique similarities vs. commonplace interests:

Uncommon commonalities can help build relationships with people outside of one’s usual social or professional circles: Grant argues that uncommon commonalities can be particularly effective in building relationships with people who may not share the same background, interests, or experiences. By highlighting these unique similarities, individuals can create a sense of common ground that goes beyond surface-level differences.

Need and MCLE Speaker? Social fitness is an essential pillar of health, like movement, sleep, and nutrition. Both introverts and extroverts need healthy social connection routines — to buffer against stress, enhance professional performance, and influence career well-being. We can learn how to “network with purpose” and rethink relationships as part of a happier, healthier lifestyle. Ask me about my MCLE talk for “wellness competence” credits.