Together we discussed friendship, which was one of my favorite experiences. But recently I have noticed that friendship (or relationships in general) are built and fueled by conversations.
Over the past few months I have been observing conversations.
But conversations are weird.
Some are like duels.
Some are like speeches.
Some are veiled.
Some are superficial.
Only a few are deep and memorable.
I recently shared some of these conversation observations with a class. Not just any class, but the last class of the year. This particular class has become a yearly tradition and it isn’t lost on me that the final chapter of the year (right before the Holiday Season) is a class on Emotional Intelligence.
Before I shared, I asked.
“What does it take to have a good conversation?”
The answers came.
“Listening. Letting other people speak. Making eye contact. Not being distracted. Not looking at your phone. Asking questions.”
Great answers. Great advice.
It was the last one that really resonated with me. It is what I have been observing.
You need all of the first things, but it is the last part that may make the real difference.
Demonstrates that you are interested in others and not just about yourself. (I have a friend who has made extreme strides in this area, and jokes about how they used to be as a reminder. During a conversation they will jump in with “Enough about me, now I want to hear what you think about me.”
Questions help you to learn about others.
My assignment to this class was to spend the Holiday Season practicing having conversations. This practice starts with asking questions. It may be helpful to try out a few of these questions over your Holiday Season as well.
- How are you? (And listen to the reply. Wait for a reply beyond “I’m good” or “Fine” and maybe ask a second time. Really, how are you?
- What is going well?
- What are you most excited for in 2017?
- What are three things that you would most like to accomplish in the next year?
- What is the last book you read?
- How are you balancing your multiple roles?
- Can you tell me a little more about what you do? What most excites you about what you do?
And the list goes on.
Be careful about asking a question, then jumping in with your own answers to each of these questions. Remember my friend’s quote, this is about them, not you.
Go try it out and let us know how it goes.
P.S. Sometimes conversations drift towards things that are not as important (Politics, Sports, the Weather) and I have a fun trigger phrase with a few friends when we drift off. Whenever one of us dwells too much on the latest game stats or news story, one of us remembers to say, “Are you Sad?” (Because we must be avoiding real conversation out of sadness…) We all chuckle and get back to focusing on things that matter most.