Conversations are the catalyst for so much in our relationships - whether that’s at work or home. But how can you make the most of the interactions you have with other people so you can deepen your relationships and build a network that supports you?
These three Cs can help...
Next time you have a conversation, take a moment to notice the way you’re listening. For example, are you listening to understand, or are you listening to speak? There’s a big difference. It’s human nature to want to be seen and heard. We like talking about ourselves! But this style of interaction has the potential to erode at the fullness of conversation possible.
When you’re listening to speak, it’s almost impossible to hear what the other person is saying fully. What’s more, because we project our own situations and experiences on to other people, we need to be mindful of the perspective through which we’re hearing another person’s story. Sure, there may be similarities. You may be able to empathize with what the other person is describing. You may think you know exactly how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking.
But do you really?
Curiosity allows you to push aside your assumptions so you can create the space to hear what’s being communicated.
When you set the intention to listen with curiosity, you start to notice the nuances and subtle details that you’d otherwise overlook. In turn, you feel inspired to ask the questions that allow you to explore a little further and go that little bit deeper. You get to ask the questions that help you better understand where a person is coming from.
So next time you sit opposite someone for a chat, be a little more curious. Ask ‘why?’ to deepen your understanding. Bring an open mind and see how it feels to talk with your best friend or partner as if it’s the first time you’ve ever met each other. You’ll likely be surprised at what you discover about each other.
The cousin of curiosity is creativity.
Whereas curiosity unlocks the courage to take your conversations to the next level, creativity inspires you to ask the questions you wouldn’t usually think to ask. In turn, you can unlock new trains of thought entirely and in the process, get to know someone way beyond small talk.
It’s easy to get lazy with conversations. It’s easy to ask the same questions which take you down the same paths, but if we’re not careful, the result is boredom.
What’s more, the longer we know someone, the easier it is to make assumptions and not even bother asking the things that would crack someone open!
Creativity is a great way to make your conversations more adventurous.
Leverage the power of curiosity, and you can unlock parts of someone you’ve never even seen before. For example, you could explore:
• Feelings and emotions
• Motivations and drivers
• Values and beliefs
• Childhood stories and experiences
• Hopes and dreams
• Learnings and lessons etc.
And if you’re stuck for things to ask, question prompts are a super-easy way to spark a different kind of conversation. So if you’re ready to shake up the chats and catch-ups you have with your friends and family, why not pop an Icebreaker or a Deeper Talk Deck into your toolbox.
The more connection you can create, the closer you can feel.
The reason we have conversations in the first place is to feel more connected to the people in our world. The feeling of belonging creates a sense of acceptance, and because we’re social beings, this feeling is good for our soul!
So how do you create meaningful connections in your friendships and relationships? Here are some techniques to try:
Make eye contact. They say that the eyes are the doorway to the soul, and I think there’s some truth in that. Making eye contact indicates to the other person that you’re genuinely listening and that they have your full attention. [There’s nothing worse than being vulnerable to find the person you’re speaking with is distracted]. When you make the other person feel seen and valued, they’re more likely to be open with you - even up their level of vulnerability.
Active listening. Conversation is one of the most effective ways to get to know another person. Similar to genuine eye contact, when you demonstrate that you’re truly listening, you’ll hear a lot more. Set the intention to master the three levels of listening and see how your effectiveness in conversations soar.
Build rapport through mirroring. Have you noticed that people like people who are like themselves? We instinctively gravitate to people who have similar interests and values to us because likeness makes us feel understood. You can create this feeling of rapport by actively mirroring the body language of the person you’re speaking with. Now, this isn’t a game of Simon Says! That can get awkward, but notice what happens if you match the way they’re sitting or holding their arms. It’s interesting to know that while we can consciously mirror someone else, we also do this instinctively. You’ll likely notice this if you’re people-watching in a cafe or a restaurant. Watch a little closer, and you’ll see how friends start to match each other!
Conversation is one of the most powerful ways to deepen your relationships with other people.
Best of all, it’s a skill you can sharpen and even master with the right tools and intention. So make it your mission to evoke curiosity, creativity, and connection next time you have a chat with someone. Who knows what’s going to open up as a result.