As we learned in last week’s post, building community connections is important for your health and wellbeing. But if you are busy with life, how do you go about building true connection within your neighbourhood?
You can begin by checking out what groups already exist or have existed in your community for people to come together. Community halls, libraries and even your local councils are good places to check out what may be out there already.
Some groups may include book clubs, hobby groups, community gardens, fishing groups, morning tea clubs, and many more, where people gather together to meet, socialise and connect with each other.
However, it should be noted that the creation of these groups is only one part of the puzzle. Groups tend not to last long without a genuine connection between its members. People can be part of a group and still feel lonely if they are unable to connect with others.
Connection take time and effort
People are naturally socially creatures who strive for human connection and interaction with each other, but they also want to feel appreciated and listened to. Active listening is a skill and shows that you are genuinely interested in what the other person is saying and makes them feel appreciated.
Forming genuine connections between people takes time and involves genuine, mutual, two way sharing and communication and really listening to what matters to each person.
Research shows that people need to spend up to 200 hours together to form a real, genuine connection with each other. This is why connecting with others takes time, patience and energy. When you do connect, you will discover a friendship built on trust, respect and authenticity.
Be aware of group dynamics
When creating or re-creating a community group it is important to consider not only the purpose of what you want to gain from it, but also the group dynamics of each member.
Each member will have a different reason for joining the group, some members may want to be social, some will want to gain new skills while for others it is a place where they won’t feel lonely in the community.
It is important to note the different social skills of each person and that some people find it harder to connect than others and create friendships. While some people may be naturally social butterflies, others will find it hard or intimidating to walk over to someone they don’t know and start a conversation.
Creating a safe environment where everyone who joins the group feels welcome and included will help to reduce the feeling of loneliness in the community.