Want to have a great conversation? Get curious. Through the years, I’ve found questions to be an amazing tool to help move conversations deeper.
When you first meet someone, pay attention to where you are and how you encounter your conversation partner. A great question to begin is, “So…when you are not (fill in the blank with wherever you are), what fills your time?” Curiosity is different than prying and your partner knows the difference. Allow him/her to guide. If they start giving shorter answers or looking away, bring the conversation to a close. Always nice to end with a word of thanks. Appreciation goes a long way in getting you a second chance.
Conversations go deeper when people trust that you will allow them to be who they are and that you genuinely care about what they have to say. Here are a few questions that help build trust. Is there something I could offer you that feels helpful or beneficial? How can I show you that I care? I don’t want to tell your story. Of what you’ve shared, what pieces do I need to protect or keep just between us?
If you have a bent toward prayer and sense that conversations reveal the divine elements passing back and forth between us, you can ask questions about God. A few that are always in my repertoire…where is God in this situation? When you pray about this, what is that like? If you could ask God one question, what would it be? I want to join you in prayer. What are you praying for most, so that I can be praying with you?
If you have enough conversations, you will encounter conflict. I’ve found it best not to hide yourself or pretend your opinions don’t count. And, I’ve found that it is okay to disagree. Some questions that seem to disarm a conflictual conversation…do you remember when you first became convinced of (fill in the blank with topic of conflict)? Is there anyone in your family that disagrees with you on (fill in the blank with topic of conflict)? You get the picture, I’m sure. The point is to use the conversation to uncover reason(s) why your conversation partner is so committed to a particular point of view.
Conversations are the source of life for relationships. You can always tell when a relationship is struggling because the conversations tend to be short, terse and focused on details. The reason I started this podcast, “Conversation Again,” is to invest in this tool of grace for our relationships. When we get better at conversation, we get better at relationship.