One of the best ways to connect to others is to hear their stories – this breaks down our mental barriers of how we see “the other” and engages empathy. That being said, when we meet someone new, they are not necessarily going to launch into storytelling just so our pre-conceived notions of who they are can be broken down. This leads to the question: how do we encourage a story to be told?
Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Marr, a local journalist who I know through my farrier life, as well as through an Equine Facilitated Learning workshop I gave in March. Danielle interviewed me a few weeks ago for an article about True Presence Horse Sense, but this time, the tables were turned and she was the one in the hot seat.
I was excited to hear Danielle’s perspective on how to encourage others to share their story because, as a reporter, she interviews people all the time. Here are the top five tips she had for connecting through conversation:
1) Open your Ears
This may sound really obvious, but it’s rare! We are so often preparing the next thing to say in our heads, that we miss what the other is actually telling us. You can’t fake good listening, and the one you are with will know when it’s authentic and when it isn’t. Close your mouth (including the one in your head), and open your ears.
2) Allow for a Pause
Danielle encourages us to get comfortable with silence. Most of us can’t stand those “awkward” pauses, but if we can let go of that discomfort, it makes room for the other to say more. Not only are they likely to say more because they probably don’t like a pause either, but it creates space for them to continue reflecting and share the next part of their story.
3) Increase our Observational Skills
Being able to perceive what the other person is experiencing is a huge strength that will allow for more connection in conversation. Notice when someone begins to look uncomfortable, and equally, notice when they light up. Pick up on the non-verbal cues of what they’re saying, and reflect that in how you’re responding.
4) Ask Good Questions
The answers we get are only as good as the questions we ask. Learning how to ask timely, open ended questions is not only a skill, it’s an art. The more open ended, the better. This means they tend to start with what, where, how and why. Check out some examples of open and closed ended questions here.
Bonus: If you catch yourself asking a closed ended question, such as “Do you like this song?” you have a chance to open it up by adding “and why?”.
5) Stay Open to Connection
We walk around with these pre-conceived notions, boxing-in ourselves and others. Break down those barriers by taking the perspective that each new interaction can be like greeting a friend who we just don’t know yet. It’s amazing the moments of connection that are possible when we stay open to each person who crosses our path.
Danielle talks about these five tips in the audio interview, and she shares a heartwarming experience she had as a journalist that helped bring out a beautiful story of commemoration.
What creates connection in conversation for you?
Leave me a comment, would love to know.
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This is part of a continuing story, click here to start from the beginning.