27 Feb STOP Talking and START Asking Questions
Let’s face it. We all want to feel needed, intelligent, and appreciated. But the way we go about capturing that feeling can either be quietly destructive, or beautifully impactful.
Let’s start by taking inventory:
- How often do you give your opinions without being asked?
- How frequently do you notice yourself sharing your own experience as compared to the rest of the crowd?
- How much do you enjoy the feeling of being heard?
Check your radar to ensure you gave your most authentic answers to the questions above. It can be uncomfortable to admit the truth—even to yourself. The scary part is, it might be hard to tell if you are selling your relationships short with the way you currently communicate.
If you’ve found yourself to be on the more aggressive side, you may have room to develop deeper connection with your peers, friends, and most importantly—your significant other (or your future significant other!)
Let’s discuss how you can tell whether you are creating true connections, or missing out on opportunities to build stronger rapport within your relationships.
Disclaimer: Before I begin, there is a time and place to share your opinions, give direction, or share your story. The following information should be used as a framework to dig deeper into your conversations and to become more cognizant of your own motives. Your motives are the key factor.
Let’s talk about intentions.
When speaking – what are your key motives? More often than not, do you want to appear to be “the smart one?” The one who has the answers? The one who is all put together? Do you develop your reply while the person in front of you is still speaking?
On the other hand, if you really want to get to know someone more authentically OR you find yourself in an appropriate position to share your expertise, then here are some tremendous ways you can make a powerful impact.
Getting To Know Someone
Always strive for a balance between maintaining curiosity and talking about yourself. When you are getting to know someone, make sure you stay curious.
What does curiosity sound like?
What are their passions? Career journey? Things that get them excited? Hobbies, sports, family traditions, favorite movies or reading material, beloved charities, etc.
Before you launch into your own personal resume, be sure to observe and understand the other party’s body language during your conversation. What topic(s) possessed distinct energy while they were sharing? Linger on that topic and ask more curious questions about it. Keep asking “what,” “why” or “how” questions, and don’t forget to interject a thought or two of your own during the conversation. Don’t be afraid to discuss and debate on these topics, as long as your comments are authentically YOU.
Here are some questions to have in your back pocket in effort to maintain curiosity:
- “Tell me more about that.”
- “How does that make you feel?”
- “Why is this so important to you?”
- “Where do you begin?”
- If it applies, ask “WHY” several times
Important: Don’t give your opinion unless you are asked (Read that again!)
The more you uncover, the more you will truly get to know the person in front of you. Try not to dominate the dialogue with your opinion, but rather validate and encourage their responses. This also makes the person you are with feel loved, honored and respected. They will feel like you care and are willing to invest the time to understand who they really are (for more on the topic of validation and encouragement, read this article on how to truly LOVE someone.)
Once you feel you’ve learned a good deal about this person, then feel free to reveal more about your own life and unique story.
Coaching, Advising & Sharing Your Opinions
Consider yourself blessed if you find yourself in the position to help guide someone. What a privilege to coach someone who is looking for direction!
The best way to help someone is to lead them to their own answer. We all know if someone tells us what to do, our human response is to defy or push back. That is our default human behavior.
A more powerful way to guide someone is to lead them to their OWN action plan.
(Remember our disclaimer from above—there ARE times to give your opinions or directives, but more often than not, you’ll want to follow the advice below and ASK QUESTIONS.)
So, how do you do this? When you sense that a friend or partner is looking for guidance, the first step is make certain they are looking for direction. Is it possible they just want someone to listen to them and validate their emotions? They might just want to vent! If that’s the case, be a great listener and just keep supporting their emotions and ask curious questions to better understand their situation.
A helpful hint for the gentlemen reading: when you try to solve a problem without being asked, you may be missing out on a moment when your lady just wants to be hugged and know that you are there for her.
And for my fellow ladies: when you share all of your own opinions without being asked, it can make your man feel emasculated or like his own opinions are not valued.
Regardless of gender, if the person in front of you is looking for clarity or a plan of action, the best thing you can do is keep asking them more about the situation until you have all the facts. Once you are certain you understand, ask them what they think is the best course of action (yes, this takes YOUR strategy off the table.) Keep asking them what they would do and why they think that is the best approach.
Any person of great influence always extracts answers from their audience. The more questions you ask, the more you extract from them—the more influential and appreciated you will become.
Learning how to effectively communicate is a journey of its own. We want to be YOUR coach and help you converse like a relationship rockstar.
For more resources, podcasts and articles, visit gemrevealed.com/media