I found myself in several situations this past week where I paused after speaking with someone. Suddenly, I wanted to know their story. How they overcame and where they persevered. Often, it seems a snapshot is all we get. Pausing before venturing into deeper waters, sensitive to their time or hardships.
I have been told that I ask questions others may not. For example, “What’s in your hands?” to the man in front of me at lunch. “What is home to you?” to a friend moving across the country.
Initially, I think of the long line of slightly nosey ladies in our family and the people standing next to them that shake their head slowly. But these questions have power. So where is the line drawn between nosey and curious in relationships?
Like so many areas of communication, it may be a slight blur or vary based on topic. Some people enjoy discussing their relationships or financial state. The next person may find that intrusive. We have all had those moments where, given our state of being, one innocent question caused a sharp ping, Using judgement and assessment of body language following a question can be instant feedback. More often than not, curiosity can open your mind.
When asking a question, ask yourself what the purpose of the information is. Will the information help you relate and grow? Will you retain it for a quick jab later on? Knowing where you stand in regard to time and emotions can be a way to check yourself and your motives before diving into the man on the subway’s life story.
Need to learn how to pause in conversations?
Visual or tactile props are an effective way to reinforce repetition of a new habit. Begin a new conversational habit with one partner. In time, the habit will be universally used. Buy a special object that remains in the line of sight and reach. Commit to it’s intention, like ‘this ________ prompts me to pause seven seconds once _______ finishes sharing,’ or ‘this ________ symbolizes the value of ______’s body and voice’.