It’s pretty simple. If you want to connect with people, the first step is to ask a question. As them about who they are, what makes their heart beat, what gives them joy, what brings them peace, what inspires them when they get up in the morning.
The second step is to listen deeply to their answers. Let them tell you what’s on their minds, their hearts, what’s rumbling in their tummies and stirring their possibilities.
The third step to connecting to people is to repeat the above, again and again and again.
Novelist, Thomas Berger wrote, “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”
So often, we step into a relationship and want to tell the other all about who we are, what we do, how we make a difference. And while that’s all very fascinating and interesting to us, they are more interested in knowing if we are interested in learning about them.
To learn more about another, Ask Don’t Tell.
And yes, reciprocity is important. We all want the other person to be as interested in learning about us as we are about them.
How will you know if they are, however, if you give them everything you want them to know about you first? In talking about you first, you close the door to their curiosity, their desire to be seen and heard and known. You make it all about you and leave them out of the conversation.
In asking about them, you open the door to understanding, connecting, seeing into the other through true intimacy or, “In-to-me-see”. How will you learn what is important to them if you tell and don’t ask?
Want to give it a try?
It doesn’t matter the circumstances, the next time you meet someone new, or someone you know well, for a coffee, a walk, a drink after work, a meeting, Ask Don’t Tell.
And get creative. We all know the answer to the question: “How was your day?” (Good. Okay. You know. Fine…)
Ask instead, “What happened in your day today to make your feel alive, like you were on purpose, feeling jazzed by life, possibility, like you were making a difference?” or “What made your day fulfilling for you?” or “What was the most exciting thing that happened in your day today?” “What set your heart dancing… your mind racing with possibilities… your belly stirring?”
And then, listen to their answer. Deeply.
Look in their eyes when they speak. Lean towards them. Use the 97% of your communication that is non-verbal to show your true interest in their response to your question.
And when they’ve given you an answer, ask them to tell you more… Tell me more about (that…. )
You can ask them to ‘tell me more…’ many times.
You can get even more creative as my beautiful friend, mentor, inspiring human being Patricia Morgan of Solutions for Resilience does.
Her question is simple. “What do you think I think is incredible about you?”
The question always gives people pause to think before they answer. And after they’ve quietly (hesitantly/shyly…) said one thing they think you think is incredible about them, the response is…
“That’s true and that’s not the only thing. What else do you think I think is incredible about you?”
And after their second answer, the response is the same… “That’s true too and that’s not the only thing either. What else?”
After their third answer, you get to tell them more… “All those things are so true about what I think is incredible about you. What else I think is incredible about you is…..” And then name all the amazing, incredible, inspiring, beautiful things you think about them.
Believe me, they will be delighted to hear what’s on your mind about them!
It always leads to a wonderful, heartfelt conversation where the other person feels seen and heard and celebrated and where both feel connected to what is at the heart of our human condition — knowing and seeing and believing we have worth in a world of wonder.
Because let’s face it, the answer to who we are in the world, how we want to be seen often stays locked inside us because no one has asked the question: What makes you heart beat? What inspires you to get up in the morning? What do you do that makes a world of difference?
Deep down, we all know who we are and when we learn our own worth, we learn how to navigate the world in new and inspiring and creative way.
Knowing our own worth is important to how we navigate our world. Connecting and helping someone see their own worth is important to making the world a better place. In that connection, hearts connect and together, we make a world of difference.