When you think about it, your life unfolds one conversation at a time. Therefore, the quality of your conversations has a lot to do with the quality of your life. Everyone involved in better conversations has a good chance of receiving these benefits:
- Feeling heard, affirmed, and appreciated, which leads to more connection;
- Experiencing clearer thinking, which leads to better decisions;
- Accessing more relaxation, which nurtures creativity;
- Experiencing positive moods, which supports improved health condition; and
- Learning something new.
Even when the conversation is among acquaintances, it is often hard to have a quality conversation because of today’s distractions and time demands. If you add strong opinions, different cultures, risky topics, and different experiences, it can be a recipe for unhealthy conversations. It takes a lot of skill and practice to create healthy conversations.
If you don’t have the tools to nourish a healthy conversation, you might be viewed by others as a Persecutor, one of the roles in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT). Conversational Persecutors often need to make their point and “be right,” talk about themselves, be one-up on others, and are poor listeners.
We all have the conversational Persecutor in us from time to time. You may have been taught that, to get ahead in life, you need to speak up, be social and chitchat, so you mindlessly talk, and redirect the conversation toward yourself. You may find conversations with people different than yourself uncomfortable, which explains why the conversational Persecutor in you can emerge at any time.
There are two little words that can help you shift from being a conversational Persecutor and contribute to healthier and more empowered conversations.
The two little words are: “I’m curious.”
Listen to any of your favorite podcast hosts or professional interviewers and you will often hear them start with “I’m curious.” This helps them get beyond meaningless chatter and really connect with their guests, because great interviewers are genuinely interested in what makes their guests tick.
When your intention is pure and you are truly curious, the other person will sense your authenticity. If your intention is to use “I’m curious” as a clever conversation technique, it will come across as manipulative. Without authenticity, “I’m curious” can sound sarcastic and a way to grill the other person.
Use “I’m curious” to say there is no right or wrong, no quizzing, or probing. The kind of “I’m curious” that says you see the Creator essence in them; that says you want to learn and understand. This is the kind of “I’m curious” that says you have no other ulterior motive than to listen.
Your sentences may sound like:
“I’m curious about what it is like to…”
“I’m curious what your experience of… (fill in the blank) was?”
“I’m curious what you learned from that experience?”
“I’m curious about your approach to…?”
These two small words, “I’m curious,” if authentically asked, can nourish a conversation so that others feel more invigorated, at ease, heard, and seen.
We cannot change others, but we certainly can influence them. The “I’m curious” sets up the other person to relax and allow their Creator essence to come forward. They can unwind and have a much greater chance of viewing your question as a way to understand them, rather than needing to defend or explain themselves.
Genuine curiosity is pure. If you believe that every person is a Creator, start your sentences with “I’m curious,” then listen and connect in a much deeper way.
We’re curious—how will you use these two little words to transform your conversations in the coming days?