“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” - Philippians 2:4
I can vividly remember a conversation with a friend that occurred well over 20 years ago. I remember very little about the conversation itself other than who I was talking to and where we were.
What I do remember is that we talked for well over an hour and at the end of the conversation, I realized that my friend had told me very little about how things were going in his life. Instead, my friend spent the entire conversation asking me questions. He asked about my kids. He asked about my job. He asked about my marriage.
Usually conversation is a two-way street. The person asks about my family, and then he tells me about his. I’ve been in conversations where someone asked me about a certain detail of my life with the obvious intent of telling me about a similar experience. I got the feeling I had just been baited!
But that day, engaging with my friend, each response of mine led him to ask more questions. He wasn’t trying to get dirt on me or to dig. He was simply interested in my life. He asked questions to get to know me better. I walked away from that moment changed and challenged myself to be “quick to listen and slow to speak”. It was a powerful moment for me.
A quick note: You’re going to be surprised at how difficult this will be! We are so accustomed to personalizing information that you’ll find yourself resorting to relatable stories rather than digging into theirs. Fight the urge! Save your stories for another day!
TRY IT: You guessed it - pick a friend or spouse that you can ask about their weekend and shoot for asking 6 probing questions in the conversation. Don’t let them ask you any! Focus on them.