Transform Your Next Holiday Party With the Gift of Listening

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Tips for Connecting with Anyone's Inner Superstar

Take a moment to remember a time when another person really “got” you. Let yourself bask in the feeling. What did you enjoy about it? People tell me they feel elated, safe, and grateful. Most of all they feel connected to the other person. As social beings we are wired to feel all those yummy feelings when others recognize our uniqueness.

In my other calling as an artist I go to a lot of receptions where the conversation is often superficial. We’re all familiar with the standard topics. What do you do? Where do you live? How many kids do you have? What these questions have in common is that they’re surface detail questions that usually lead to dead ends. I have a low threshold for boring, make nice interactions. I want real! It’s my intention at every reception I attend to experience a heartfelt connection with a few people. I want to feel touched and inspired and give that to others!

As an introvert, I’ve had to work hard at developing ease in social settings. What makes all the difference is that now my attention is not riveted by my self-conscious awkward feelings. Instead I have an intention to connect and I apply my empathic listening skills to reach out to others.

Here are my top four tips for deeper conversations:

1. Be Curious!

What makes you tick? That’s the basic question in my mind and heart. Ask open-ended big questions. Someone tells you they just got back from Turkey. Ask what’s the best thing for you about traveling? Or, how did that trip affect you? Adapt this to whatever the topic is- being retired, or being a nurse, being in third grade…….

2. Listen underneath the details to what inspires and motivates people

I was talking with a retired veterinarian at an art reception and she described the most difficult part of her job as diagnosing animals, because they cannot talk to her. She shared how meaningful it was for her touching animals and receiving their responses as clues to figure out what was going on. I came away with a sense of her as an extremely patient and sensitive person. The conversation went deeper because of curious questions instead of dead-end detail-oriented questions.

3. Reflect back what you’re hearing

Connect to what matters to them and makes them thrive. It sounds like ________ is important to you. Fill in the blank- “an intimate connection with animals,” “empowering your patients,” “the joy you feel creating art.” Listen for the bigger picture needs they are meeting by doing what they do, whether it’s playing golf or gardening. When we reflect back what we’re hearing, people really know they are being understood.

4. Acknowledge and appreciate the person

“What a great conversation- thank you for sharing about yourself!” Tell them what you enjoyed about it. It’s a gift when people reveal what makes them tick. I always walk away from these conversations with people inspired by our heart connection and my deeper understanding of humanity.

A great benefit of deeper conversation is that it calls forth the superstar in ordinary people like you and me. We are magically in the presence of the best life has to offer. At the end of the day, this is what lights everyone up most!

Andrea Pro is a relationship and communication coach at Connect and Thrive. She supports women in mastering self-awareness and communication skills that generate thriving and empowering relationships. Contact her here for your 30- minute complimentary consultation.

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