Every relationship begins with a conversation. There are many ways to connect to a person, and different kinds of experiences can help you bond. These moments determine what kind of relationship two people will share and how strong it will be. Even the most dull, meaningless conversations people have say something about them, hence, no conversation is unimportant. Yes, the body language matters just as much as the words, but the latter still remains more important in defining how well you know the other person and how good of a chemistry you may have with them. Like dull writing, dull conversation can trap you in a stale, unemotional, cliché, routine and passive relationship that you have no choice but to endure. The anticipation of bad conversation is the reason you wince and consider avoiding interaction with the other person because you can tell how it will go before you have even started talking to them. The same could be true in our romantic lives.
Routine questions that evoke flat responses become the death for any relationship. Two people can talk, but both of them can know nothing about what’s really happening inside because not all conversation is connection. For this to change, questions need to change. The best kind of conversation is about encouraging someone else to dig out their soul and offer it up for examination. Here are some easy ways to encourage people you care about to engage in a meaningful conversation with you:
Let them be the expert
People want to share their wisdom. If you want someone to open up more, make them feel important and intelligent, and ask for their advice. This goes especially for people who are ambitious and have lots of life experience they want to share. Ask things like, “What would you tell someone starting off in your business today?”, “What’s the most important thing you learnt about yourself when you lived in that country?” etc. These questions are interesting because they tell you about a person’s inner beliefs and perspective on life, which then let’s you share your perspective if you agree or disagree. People think they have to know a lot about what someone else does in order to connect with them, but it requires no knowledge: just ask them to teach you or give you advice instead.
Reveal your own vulnerabilities
Don’t be emotionally indifferent or people will feel distant to you. By showing that you have weaknesses as well, you show them that you are human just like them. Just let them know that you have small flaws too and that it’s okay to have them. As long as you are comfortable enough to have a sense of humour about it, people will love you for it. If you create a façade of being too perfect, people will feel alienated by you and won’t want to open up for fear of looking weak in front of you.
Get someone speaking about what they would love to do
Engage someone by talking about their dreams and the big picture. Ask them what they would most like to have achieved when they look back on their lives, or what they would like people to say about them in the future. The future is great because it is easy for people to get excited about their upcoming plans and you’ll learn a lot about them when you ask about their dreams and goals.
A conversation can change someone’s life. We can affect people in profound ways with the right question, or a truly honest response, or when we allow someone just to get something off their chest that they have never been able to say. The world might love to talk, but it doesn’t mean everyone is having worthwhile conversations. We have to always be the exception, the magnet of what’s real amongst the posing and superficiality. We have a chance with every word, in a world full of hot air, to be a person who talks substance.
Use the Sigmund Freud Method
Understand that when someone is opening up to you, they can be exposing themselves to a vulnerable situation. Be careful with your responses and do not judge them. Instead, make them feel like what they are saying is completely normal and show curiosity in their stories. In other words, just give the other person room to speak! Ask follow up questions to make them open up more: what was that like? What else happened? Are there other things you are worried/excited about at the moment? Had you always wanted to do that? People tend to reveal themselves when they feel like they (a) have plenty of room to speak, (b) won’t be judged for their actions, and (c) feel like you are curious to hear their answers.
Ask questions that give someone permission to open up emotionally
The need to be heard is one of the most fundamental needs a person has. Even though people desperately want to express themselves in front of someone, they can be scared of doing so for a number of reasons; they may be shy, and may fear an unwanted reaction. This is why you need to make them feel comfortable enough so that they think it is okay to share. Ask them a question that forces them to reflect on emotions and instantly feel connected, for example, “What was going through your head when they told you that you’d get the job?” Great questions make someone look forward to a conversation with you, because you are letting them speak about subjects and emotions they don’t usually get to talk about.