What a great reminder from Eleanor Roosevelt…life was meant to be lived and curiosity must be kept alive. As we rush into the holiday season it can be overwhelming to keep all the plates spinning between work and home. It can feel daunting to be with family and friends and keep curiosity alive when we know them oh so well. Sometimes a great open ended question can start the ball rolling.
Instead of asking how are you, ask what’s new with you? It is amazing what happens when we ask people a question that forces them to elaborate instead of opting for a one word response. Once asked we then need to shut up and give them time to think and craft a response. I am a talker so the art of patience and waiting helps here. I have to stop myself from filling in the silence with words to allow them to find their own words. If that one question doesn’t help, then ask another open needed question. One like, what is your biggest challenge right now? Or maybe, what are you excited about? Then give them time to think and listen, reallllllly listen to what they are saying and what they are not saying. Sometimes the message is in the words not from the words themselves.
I have a nephew who is notorious for one words texts and answers. It takes him a while to warm up, not to us but to talking about himself. If we give him a couple hours he will talk our ears off! It’s fantastic! KNOWING people means also knowing how they communicate, how they talk, what they like to talk about and how long they need to warm up. Sometimes a plate of warm, yummy food or dessert is just the right leverage needed to get the ball rolling.
As you are surrounded these next few months with people – family, friends, neighbors, new acquaintances- keep Eleanor Roosevelt in mind..life was meant to be lived and curiosity must be kept alive…and it may be one good open ended question that gets that ball rolling. Take the initiative this holiday season to get people to tell you all about them. Let their lives enrich your time, the best people we know are usually the best listeners.