Contrary to popular belief, most people that I met in the UK are actually quite extroverted. I guess that’s because the way I communicate with them influenced the way they talk.
I ask people questions which give them permission to open up on an emotional level.
Kevin Smith once said, “People have 3 fundamental needs – food, intimacy and the need to express themselves.”
In reality, many people are unwilling to open up due to various reasons. They are worried about your reaction. They are introverted. They fear being judged. But I have a simple way to get other people to open up emotionally – I ask them how they actually feel about things.
“When you moved to this country in 2010, how did you feel at that time?”
“Was it hard to handle a career change?”
“When you landed that contract, what was on your mind?”
These high-quality questions trigger emotions and feelings. They are not about analytical thinking or logic. They make people feel more connected immediately.
Good questions make people look forward to having conversations with me. I let them talk about things the don’t often get to talk about with others.
That’s why many British people have become my friends because of my trip to the UK.
When someone opens up to me, I don’t judge them. I do not criticize them when they tell me something crazy, bad or embarrassing. I make them feel like it is absolutely normal and acceptable. I show them even more curiosity. I give them enough room to open up and speak.
Psychologists have the ability to let people speak and then ask questions to dig deeper. I often ask the following questions to know more about people:
“What else also happened?”
“Do you always wanted to achieve that goal?”
“What was that experience like?”
Remember: individuals want to open up when they have room to talk, feel like they will not be judged by you and know you are curious about their answer.
I know people would like to share their insights and wisdom. That’s why so many gurus do Facebook live videos to answer questions online. Whenever I want someone to open up in a conversation, I simply ask for their advice about their expertise. This is especially important when I’m talking to someone who is ambitious and has a lot of experience to share.
So, I tend to ask these questions:
“What advice would you give someone who has never done that before?”
“When you were in Germany, what did you learn about that country?”
“What’s your morning routine for staying successful?”
These interesting questions reveal a person’s perspective on life as well as inner beliefs. Simply asking them to teach me things is a great way to connect with people instantly.
The power of being vulnerable:
I also reveal my own vulnerabilities during conversations. I’m only human, so I also have vulnerabilities to share with others when I open up. Yes, I have flaws and I’m okay with that. I don’t take my flaws too seriously because I always talk about my flaws with a sense of humor.
If I look perfect, people will feel slightly alienated by me and will not open up (they will worry about looking weaker than me).
Apart from that, I also encourage people to talk about what they love doing. Most people are passionate about their hopes and dreams. It’s always easier for individuals to become excited about their future plans. I often learn a ton about their ideals as they talk about their goals and dreams.
Sometimes an important conversation can change a person’s life forever. With the right questions, we can influence people in positive ways.
Besides, I avoid cliché. Basically, clichés are things people have heard for too many times and their impact is gone already.
Instead of saying, “That’s lovely”, I tend to say something more powerful such as, “Thank you so much for this beautiful handwritten card. I feel so special because of you.”
Now this response is very impactful as it shows something impressive about that person’s personality.
Even when I don’t completely understand my thoughts, I express my entire thought process. Whenever there are some conflicting thoughts in my head, I discuss all of them. Expressing the confusion makes it easier to communicate in a conversation.
Whenever I pay someone a compliment, I always use real examples that are very specific. Look at the following compliments:
“I admire your knowledge because you know so many things about history and culture.”
“I like it when you keep me posted – it’s very important for me to know the progress of this project.”
During my trip to the UK, I also learned that when I don’t want to win anyone’s approval, people actually like me more.
I simply say how I feel in the moment; I speak simply because I would like to communicate and express myself. That’s why I’m honest in interactions. Whenever I talk to British people, I always avoid those stifled and overpolite conversations that take us nowhere. My conversations are spontaneous, honest and totally unscripted!
This attitude is childlike, not childish. I stay firm and grounded in my personal reality and I don’t expect anyone’s approval because I don’t need that kind of validation. 😊
What I noticed in Europe is so eye-opening:
In general, European cities have many coffeehouses where individuals can sit and relax without working their faces off. Most Europeans do not rush getting on the bus. Many Europeans eat a lot of dairy, sugar and gluten, but the majority of them are not overweight. What’s more, Europeans tend to look at each other while talking without staring at their smartphones in cafes and restaurants.
That being said, there is a difference between the UK and France, according to my observation. In the UK, although people have lots of free time, they don’t have the amount of freedom that French people have. In Paris, people literally take July and August off because companies give employees seven to ten weeks of paid holiday!
In other words, Europeans know how to enjoy life. At least they know it better than most Americans do!
From now on, I’ve decided to prevent overwhelm by doing less, so here is my stop-doing list:
- Comparing myself to other people
- Beating myself up for not checking my email Inbox every day
- Prioritizing work before sleep
- Starting business ventures with people that I don’t really respect
- Feeling very guilty about enjoying pleasure and having fun
- Saying yes to people in order to win approval
- Overmanaging life
- Analyzing small details that do not matter
- Feeling bad about drinking hot chocolate when I go out with my friends
“I had the most delicious hot chocolate during my trip to the UK. That was a life-changing moment!”