Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are very connected to one another thanks to Zoom calls, social media, and VERZUZ concerts. But because we're missing the human connection — the brunches, the concerts, even just getting together for a cup of coffee — we have never felt more alone. 

Riaz Meghji — author of the newly-released book, Every Conversation Counts: The 5 Habits of Human Connection that Build Extraordinary Relationships — says that this is to be expected. Because we no longer communicate extensively, with nuance and tone in mind — because we reduce our conversations to likes, retweets, and reposts — we've lost the ability to communicate mindfully. 

"It shouldn't take a disaster to bring us together," he said. "As many of us discovered during the lockdowns brought on by the pandemic, isolation can literally make us sick. In [my book], readers will discover the enormous human cost of this pandemic of loneliness, and they'll learn some practical strategies for building stronger connections, both personally and professionally."

Perhaps that is why so much of our lives feel lonely and isolating? But, he says, there are five things we can start doing now — things that will become a habit and a routine with time — that will quickly help us develop more meaningful and mindful connections and relationships. 

Combat Isolation and Loneliness by Fostering Meaningful Human Connections

Fostering meaningful human connections is difficult in an increasingly virtual world, but there are ways to cultivate a good friendship, even if your only connections are online right now. Check-ins, safe sharing spaces, and (safe) in-person social time are essential to creating meaningful human connections. Remember: you only have to share what you feel comfortable sharing. 

Craft Compelling Stories That Will Make You a Magnet for Attention

We all want to share and share-alike. Some of us feel more comfortable with sharing things than others. But even if you only feel comfortable sharing topical stories, you can do so in such a compelling way and keep the listener — that is, your potential new bestie — engaged. 

Put Aside Your Perfect Persona and Engage Others on a Deeper Level

We're all human. We all make mistakes. And no one likes a know-it-all. "Owning what's yours" in terms of your fallibility doesn't mean you're a bad person — it means you're human, just like the rest of us. And sometimes, sharing your failings will help someone else feel comfortable coming to terms with their own weaknesses, thereby fostering not only a meaningful connection but a mutual understanding and respect as well.

Be Assertively Empathetic, Defuse Conflict and Collaborate Effectively

There is nothing — absolutely nothing — worth fighting over to the point of near-combustion with the exception of extreme life-or-death circumstances. Not only is constant fighting not conducive to good relationships, but it's not conducive to anyone's mental health (including your own). Try to understand where the other person is coming from before leaping down their throat, and if you see a conflict coming up, do your best to defuse the situation effectively and assertively. 

Make People Feel Famous Through the Power of Appreciation

Everyone likes to feel appreciated once in a while. And you'd be amazed how even the smallest compliment can go the longest distance. Go out of your way to tell someone something nice today — then make it a point to do it every day. You'd be amazed how much better they — and you! — feel.