Conversation seems to be a dwindling skill. Which is sad, because at the end of the day connection’s one of the things we most crave from others. Yet recently, many people I meet seem to be either unwilling or incapable of putting a pause in their talking to ask any questions of me.
It wouldn’t matter, except questions are the secret sauce of relationships. They turn a monologue or lecture (which is boring for the listener) into a dialogue or conversation. They affirm the other person and say ‘you matter.’ They can also extend the hearer’s world and add new ways of looking and seeing things. And on top of it all, they make talking interesting for everyone involved!
If you’re not a confident conversationalist, that can change! Instead of the same uninspired conversations or monologues this week, stir things up and enhance connection by asking some (or all!) of the following questions to your friends, family or work colleagues:
What took most of your time today (this weekend/week)?
What’s the most energising thing you’ve done recently?
A while back you said you were into x. You still doing much of that lately?
Since these questions are about a behaviour or thing, they’re a good non-threatening place to start. To step it up you could ask:
Have you read or watched anything interesting recently?
Hey, what do you think about (current world issue)?
Been learning anything new lately?
These questions request information and opinions; a tad more threatening. Watch for reactions and respond appropriately. If you want to take things further, how about:
What’re three things you reckon you’re good at?
What’s been your main thought or feeling this week?
Hey I don’t ask much, but how are you going with (something you know was hard recently)?
Getting quite personal here; but as the risk grows so does the potential relationship reward. Work to feel and understand each response. If you’re both really engaged, venture further with these questions:
If you could teleport back five years, what advice would you give yourself?
What do you reckon you want to be doing in 10 years?
What are three great things about today?
These questions extend your relationship beyond the here and now, from facts into big picture concepts.
Not everyone will appreciate or take up your implied offer to build a better connection with them. That’s their choice. But at least you offered! And those who do will appreciate your interest in them. You’ll benefit as well, because the deeper you connect, the more satisfied you’ll feel. Here’s to a dying art and good connections.