A few weeks ago, one of my colleagues sent me a great article about ways to enrich romantic relationships in our every day conversations. That article inspired me to share with you how you can deepen your relationship by starting to ask the right questions.
How are you? How is it going? How was your day? These are questions that we hear and ask each other on a daily basis. Sometimes we truly care to hear the answer to those, but often, we only ask to be polite—certainly, the motives behind these questions matter!
Being raised in Poland, I was taught to ask the How are you? question only when I wanted to hear an honest answer to it. Since I’ve lived in the United States for the last 14 years, I forgot about that lesson, and I am guilty of asking the How are you question? even when I don’t want to hear the answer.
Regardless of the motive that one has behind these How is it going? questions, I have a problem with the question itself. It is not specific enough! Because it is so vague, (and because I hear it so much) it is just easier to give the I am fine, thanks! type of response.
Again, I have a problem with that because we are then missing out on an opportunity to learn important information about those who we truly care are about!
If we don’t learn to ask the right questions, we also miss out on an opportunity to connect!
Now, if you want to continue having small talk with your spouse or kids, you know which questions to ask. If you want to connect and deepen your relationship, I want to challenge you to start your conversations differently.
For children, you want to help them name their feelings, hear the meanings they created about their daily events, and help them co-create their stories so they feel empowered and confident. Here are my suggestions for your child:
- When did you feel excited today?
- When did you feel lonely or scared today?
- When did you feel disappointed and sad today?
- When did you feel proud of yourself today?
- What does it mean to you that your friend/teacher ignored you today?
HINT: If your child continuously says “I don’t know” and you end up feeling like you don’t truly know what is going on internally for your child, stop by my office! I can teach you how to talk to your child in a way that will help him/her open up to you. It is completely normal that kids sometimes need a little help with describing their feelings, needs, and inner world experiences.
If you want to deepen your conversations with your partner and connect with him or her on an emotional level, try asking some of these questions:
- Did you feel supported by me today?
- When did you last feel loved by me and why?
- What can I do today to put a smile on your face?
- Do I make it safe enough for you to talk to me?
- How do you feel about us and our relationship?
HINT: If it is hard for you to even imagine asking these questions to your partner, OR if you ask these questions with best intentions but somehow you end up arguing and fighting, call me! I can help you figure out what blocks you and your partner from having a conversation like that.
As always, I am curious to hear from you how did these conversations go! What is easy? What is hard? Did you feel closer connected to your partner or your child?
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