What can I do to get to know other people?
I’m so glad you asked me.
Listening to what others say is of course paramount.
Listening to what is meant by what they say is even more effective.
Of course, in order for you to listen, the other person needs to talk. My favorite way to get to know others is to simply ask them questions and then listen!
If conversation were dance, then asking a question is an invitation to come out on the dance floor with you.
- Asking questions shows you are confident, intelligent and curious.
- Asking questions also shows you’re more interested in what you can learn about others than in telling about yourself.
- Asking questions shows that you have respect for others, and showing respect is an important way to build trust.
Building trust is key to establishing any relationship, whether with your colleagues, your neighbors, or with strangers at a social gathering, and one important way to do that is through your conversations.
By all means, start with the common questions about sports teams, the weather, plans for a holiday or whatever topic seems appropriate. They’re called icebreakers for a reason.
Don’t let your opening questions be a perfunctory exchange of pleasantries. Within the answers are useful pieces of information that you can use to build upon.
For instance, ask the person about a game or event that is of interest to you. This is not an opening for you to show off your knowledge. It is your opportunity to listen to the response and deduce he is an avid fan, or pays little attention to the game. If the latter, use his response to bridge to a question about other leisurely pursuits. You have a few things in common with most everyone. It’s up to you to discover what those things are.
Of course, you’re not conducting a job interview or a police interrogation, so keep your questions open-ended. These allow the conversation to go in many different directions. Be willing to share some details about yourself (it helps in avoiding the feeling of an interrogation) and keep your answers short.
Think about your conversation habit. Are you mostly listening and asking questions or are your conversations mostly all about you? The next time you have the opportunity to get to know someone, concentrate on listening and asking questions. You’ll be amazed by what you learn, and by how well people respond to you.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Asking questions is the simple and easy way to start a conversation or to keep one going. By asking questions, you learn more about the person, even if only to determine whether you want to get to know them better.
What tips do you have for forming a new relationship or renewing an old one? Has asking a question ever backfired? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!
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