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The people I know who are well-liked and have lots of friends are people who ask genuine questions of the people they meet. Sadly, some of us are a tad socially awkward and the thought of asking questions makes us want to hurl.
Or maybe you are like me and over compensate for awkward scenarios by asking lots of questions to be in control of the conversation. For a while, I had a tendency to be on a first date and ask a barrage of questions so I wouldn’t have to be asked anything. Then I could leave and tell my friends it wouldn’t work out because, “They didn’t even ask me a thing!”
I know, I know, I have issues.
Honestly, many of us are becoming less and less comfortable asking questions of substance and genuinely listening because we live in a time of telling. And often what we are “telling” is of little importance.
The key, I believe, is finding the balance between asking, listening and sharing. In one of my improv classes I was actually called out on asking TOO many questions in a scene. I was told (and it makes sense) that asking so many questions without giving any information puts all the work on the other player.
The best scenes happen when both players actively listen and give information, which helps the scene build or show that they were really listening. Therefore, in order to be less socially awkward and build good relationships, I give you:
FIVE SLIGHTLY SCIENTIFIC STEPS TO BEING LESS SOCIALLY AWKWARD AND BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS WITH HUMANS WHICH WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN TEN EASY PAYMENTS OF $19.95.
1. Be Genuine: Don’t just ask the question you want to be asked back. (And if you have an agenda in the conversation, ask yourself why and/or be forthright about that agenda.)
2. Listen: Instead of thinking about what you want to say next. (And if you aren’t someone who listens, maybe ask yourself why.)
3. Jump! Metaphorically speaking, on phrases the person might say like, “But that’s a whole other crazy story.” Ask them to share more or inquire about non-verbal cues of excitement or stress.
4. Share: If a story, contributing fact or something of matching vulnerability will create empathy, understanding or a connection, give them that information so they will feel less alone. But don’t force a story and don’t be a One-Upper. Nobody likes a One-Upper.
5. Pause: If you are a hyper-question-asker because you don’t want to talk about yourself or you can’t handle silence, stop. Be comfortable with silence and waiting a second, because the reality is they may notice in that pause that they’ve been talking the whole time. (However, opening your eyes really wide and staring as you wait for them to ask you something is not what I’m suggesting.)
Some of this might sound familiar and that’s because it’s a topic I find myself referring to often. People email asking for those posts, so here you go! A few of my favorites in one bright, shiny package.
Ask Joy: Asking Good Questions (2012. Also, this is the video above that I’m SURE you just watched.)
…and a video as well!
So, let me ask you… (picture me with really wide inquisitive eyes.)
If you know my friend, Eddie, then you’ve probably been asked his favorite question, “Who hurt you?” (Lead with this question, per my example at min 52:12 of this Relevant Podcast. It reeeeeally gets the awkward party started.)
From my “So, how many siblings do you have?” heart,
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.