Lately I’ve been thinking about ways to encourage others to talk about themselves and tell their stories without providing them any kind of apparatus or guiding question.
People don’t experience life the same way as I do. They don’t always want to talk about the things I might think matter. They come from different cultures, different backgrounds, different communities, different capacities, and radically different mindsets based on a wide variety of factors.
How can you really get to know someone if you’re shaping the information before they even begin?
Sometimes we’re tempted to learn about others in ways that are meaningful to us and not them. I like to ask people where they’re from, what their family is like, what they do for a living, or what books they are reading. But what if, instead, I asked a new friend this:
“I would love to get to know you better, so what would you like to share about yourself that’s important to you?”
“What do you like others to know about you as they get to know you?”
You get the point. Even the way I ask questions is centered on my point of view, my culture, and my experience with meaning.
I am learning how to inhabit new perspectives even in how I ask questions.