Whether it’s a new friend, romantic partner, or family member, you want to know them deeply. Yet knowing someone well is challenging. We live in a world of distraction and busyness, where we can’t possibly pay attention to everything that’s happening around us. But great relationships require both parties to be present and open with each other—and knowing someone deeply begins with being able to see past your own perceptions and assumptions about who they are as a person. Here are ten ways to get started:
Start with the right questions
Questions are a proper way to get your relationship off on the right foot, and you’ll want to make sure that you’re asking the right ones. It might seem obvious, but the best questions are open-ended ones that allow for a lot of back-and-forth between you and your new friend. “How’s it going?” isn’t going to get you very far—you need something more like: “What do you like most about living here?” or (if they don’t live in New York), “Where do you consider home? Why did you choose it? What were some other places where you considered moving? How did those compare with this one? And how has being away from there changed your relationship with it now that distance has become part of it?”
A good conversation should be one where neither person feels obligated to fill every silence with chatter. In general, though, people who have lived longer than five minutes have had plenty of experience talking about themselves so try not to focus too much on yourself during those first few conversations!
Check the questions from Twinfluence.com to get some ideas.
- Observe their body language. When you are observing someone, it is important to pay attention to their body language. If they have their arms crossed or if they look away when you’re talking, they may not be interested in what you have to say. If a person has a smile on their face and seems comfortable with the conversation, then it is likely that they are enjoying talking with you as well.
- Keep track of your friends’ moods—and watch how often they change! It’s easy for people to get frustrated or upset about things without realizing it themselves (or without saying anything about how bad things feel). So keep an eye out for changes in behavior: Are my friends acting differently lately? Are there new habits I don’t recognize?
Seek to understand their worldview
A worldview is your perception of existence. It’s the sum total of all the beliefs and assumptions you have about life, human nature, and how things work. And it’s not just limited to a particular time or place – it can change over time based on new experiences and exposure to new ideas and information.
A person’s worldview determines his/her approach to life, relationships, and interactions with others (including politics).
Here are three ways you can learn more about someone’s worldview:
Listen to their stories
If you want to know someone deeply, listen to their stories.
Ask them about their school days; ask them about their first job and the first time they fell in love. Listen attentively as they share these experiences with you. If they’re not talking enough or sharing openly enough, then help open up the conversation by asking questions like “What was your favorite subject in school?” or “What were some highlights of your childhood?”
Listen to their silences.
Listening to someone’s silence is a way to know them deeply. Not just what they say but also what they don’t say and don’t want to say.
Use your imagination as you listen to what they don’t want to tell you, or what they can’t bring themselves to tell you, or even what they don’t want to hear from you!
Collect their belongings
Get to know someone by collecting their things. We all have something that we can’t live without, like a pair of black shoes or a journal. These are things that help us process thoughts and feelings and create memories for us to look back on later in life.
This is why it’s important to collect items from people you care about, even if they don’t necessarily have anything special about them (like a favorite shirt). When you’re able to feel the history of what someone has gone through by holding a part of themselves in your hands, it helps build a connection between two people in other ways as well: You might notice how similar or different your interests are when looking at objects together; maybe comparing one another’s clothing creates funny conversations; maybe you’ll find yourself more comfortable talking about tough topics because they’re already out there on display!
Know their gifts and talents
When you know someone’s gifts and talents, their strengths and areas of opportunity will be clearer. This can help you better understand your partner as an individual.
Gifts are innate, while skills are acquired over time through education or training. For example, being good at math is a skill that one learns from being taught how to do math problems. The ability to make friends easily may be considered a gift because it is innate in the person; they have this particular quality inside them already — they don’t necessarily learn how to do it through experience or education (although these things may help).
Study their actions
While it’s important to be aware of the emotions you’re experiencing, it is even more important to take a step back and seek to understand how these emotions are affecting your partner.
This can be assured by asking questions like:
- What was triggering that reaction in me?
- Is there something I can do differently next time?
- Where did my reaction come from?
Ask deeper questions
Asking someone’s values can be a great way to start. If they say they value honesty and integrity but then lie about where they work or where they grew up, it will send off major red flags. You can also ask what the person wants out of life and how they see the world—this will give you a much better idea of who this person is than simple facts would ever accomplish.
If someone says that their dream is to buy an RV and travel across America, don’t just take their word for it; find out if there are any reality shows about people who do exactly that! If not yet, encourage them in this endeavor (and maybe offer your support). It could be the beginning of a great friendship!
You will know someone by learning about them and then applying what you learn.
There is no one way to know someone deeply. The more you learn about them, the richer your relationship with that person becomes.
- Observe them closely: Give attention to how they behave in different situations and see how that affects their personality
- Listen closely: listen carefully to what they say and ask questions as appropriate (don’t be afraid if something doesn’t make sense until later)
- Be patient and open-minded
The best way to get to know someone is by listening. Listening is the key that unlocks the heart, mind, and soul of another person because it gives us to understand what they are going through and why they do the things they do.