Here are five tips (and some potential questions) to help you shift your conversations and deepen your relationships:
Be curious. If you’ve read my blog or newsletters, you’ve heard me say ‘be curious’ before, but it really does warrant repeating. It’s important to ask open ended question that start conversations. Then, reflect upon what they are saying and respond in kind with either observations about what is resonating for you, your own complementary story, or maybe another question to dig a little deeper.
Tell me about your journey to where you are now…
What do you love about your life / work today? What would you change if you could?
Keep your mind focused on the person you are talking to and what they are saying. When you are listening to connect* on what the other person is saying you hear the nuances in the conversation, you can learn more, dig deeper, and connect more fully. Pose questions that build upon what you are hearing to show that you are truly listening and to keep the conversation flowing naturally.
I can hear that you are <excited / exhausted / etc.> about <action / activity>, tell me more about it…
I can see that we view the situation through two different lenses, that excites me as it is an opportunity to learn. I’d love to explore how our different perspectives can help us shape new ideas… are you interested in doing the same?
Note similarities. Respectfully acknowledge differences. Speak to the truth of the conversation / situation with honesty. When you find similarities, acknowledge them and celebrate. Explore them to learn. When you find differences, spend some time exploring the different perspectives non-judgmentally and respectfully. Whether you are in agreement or disagreement, an honest, respectful and non-judgmental approach will open up an opportunity to have a deep, rich conversation.
I’m intrigued by your perspective on <<situation / event / activity>>, tell me more about why you took this approach?
I loved how you did <<action>> and would love to learn more about why you made that decision? what influenced your thinking? and what you learned doing it this way?
Share stories & expertise that complement and add value to the conversation. Allow yourself to show up authentically with your real life experiences – it is easier and it is better received. The two-way process helps to bridge experiences, expertise, and strengthens the connection you are developing with your conversational partner. And stories, are way more memorable that facts and figures.
I can relate to your story. I remember when….
Can I share a story that I think might resonate with you? I’d love your perspective on the situation.
Listen to the nuances of the conversation to learn when it is time to gracefully wrap up and move on. Be cognizant of the fact that while you want to connect more fully with this individual, they may have a different goal for the event. Be respectful of the other’s person’s time and energy. Consider having a comment / question or two to use to wrap up the conversation gently, with purpose, and to request to continue the conversation at a later date.
I don’t want to monopolize you and I know that you are here to make new connections, may I call you next week to ask you some additional questions?
I would love to continue this conversation at a later date, would you be interested in meeting for a coffee and conversation?
When you use curiousity and questions to frame your communications, you are more easily able to adapt to the situation and deepen the relationship – even in a sales situation. What questions have you used in the past? How did they change the conversation? Share your comments below.
* Listening to Connect is a term from Judith Glaser’s work around Conversational Intelligence. Listening to connect is about peering into the other person’s world and learning about their desires, goals, needs, and wants. When we listen to connect, we are in a place of no judgement, of support & encouragement, of connecting and affirming the other person. Learning to listen to connect helps build strong long-term relationships now and in the future. To learn more about listening to connect and conversational intelligence, watch Judith Glaser talks about about: Listening to Connect.