If you know me, you know how much I love people. People are beautiful, ever-changing, and fascinating. Human beings have so much to offer the world—and each other—and so many of us fail to realize just how much we can learn from each other. I really believe that every person you encounter is a new opportunity: a new friend, a new associate, a new learning experience. After hearing too many people complain about how much they "hate people," I've decided to take this week's article in a new direction. Here are eight ways that you can have more meaningful interactions with the people around you.

1. Maintain eye contact.

Eye contact is huge—it expresses that you're really interested and engaged in your conversation. It's respectful and kind, and there's nothing awkward about it. Every time I talk to someone, I try to make eye contact for as long as they are speaking.

2. Put your phone away.

I've seen people trying to talk to each other while eagerly tapping on their phones too many times. I've even watched two people on a date—in a restaurant—peeking at each other across the table over their phones. This "multitasking" is harmful for both parties. The one on the phone isn't really listening, therefore, he or she isn't gaining anything from the experience. The one trying to talk feels irritated and ignored.

3. Focus on what they are saying.

Try to actually listen to what it is people are saying to you. It's easy to zone out while someone is talking, especially when they are talking about something you have no interest in. However, by being an active listener, you are truly building your relationship with him or her.

4. Give them genuine reactions.

Allow them to tell you their entire story before you react. Take the time to listen to them and form an opinion.

5. Respect their perspectives.

You're not going to agree with everyone, every time. In order to find depth in your relationships with others, it's important to understand that everyone comes from a completely different background. Therefore, we all have different perspectives based on our own personal experiences.

6. Avoid interrupting them.

Try to prevent yourself from interrupting people, even if it's just to add to their story/share your opinion/correct something. Allow the person you are speaking to to finish, and you'll find that people are a lot more eager to talk to you.

7. Make them feel validated.

People love feeling validated. It's important to all of us to feel cared for and respected. In order to have genuine relationships with others, you need to make sure that they feel like you value their words.

8. Respect their time.

Put the phone down for the duration of your conversation with others. Think before you speak.