So often, when we meet someone new, we ask, “What do you do for a living?” or “Do you have kids?” But so rarely we say, “Tell me something interesting about yourself,” or “What’s your favorite childhood memory?”
Whatever happened to really getting to know one another and asking about people? Yes, with friends, you build a friendship, and over time someone will share a story or memory but rarely do we ever ask a real question. Maybe that’s because we are all attached to our phones and updating our statues and sharing the latest photo to Instagram or creating a witty tweet.
Personally, I want to know people. Beyond their favorite meal; what’s one thing that can make their awful day better in an instant? What is their passion, and how can I be supportive of it? Friendships are usually cultivated over dinners where a group of people talk at once. Don’t get me wrong, those dinners are great, but what about the details of our lives?
When I get stressed out, I like to clean bathrooms, and that’s something my closest friends know about me. I think it’s time we start really talking to one another, really listening to what others have to say instead of listening just to respond.
The next time you’re out with friends, no matter how long you’ve known them, ask them, “what’s something no one knows about you?” I bet you will be glad you did! The person will be thrilled to share, and you’ll learn something new and worthwhile. You will feel more connected and have a better understanding of who they are and their background.
It’s also a fun way to build relationships and to better understand why something might bother someone. When we were kids, it felt as though we didn’t hold back. No idea was too silly; no suggestion was lame. Maybe because we were younger and naïve, perhaps because we didn’t understand social norms, but I think it’s because we really cared and somewhere in adulthood or with social media we lost the art of conversation.
Some of my favorite conversations are with those who I learned something new from. Maybe it was a fact or hearing about their favorite holiday or their family tradition. Conversations are powerful and shape lives. They also build strong bonds. So the next time you meet someone, ask them, “What’s your story?” We can all talk about our kids, spouses, jobs like it’s anything, but when you can get into a deep conversation, it might just change at how you look at something or someone. You might just learn something you never knew.
What’s your story?