Intimate Conversation 101
As a parent of five adult children who live in various areas of the country, I’ve been learning that making time and space for intimate conversations is crucial to the quality of my relationships with each of them. Of course, conversations are important all the time, but when you are separated by distance, often, a conversation is the only connection that you have. In her book, Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time, Susan Scott reminds us that the essence of a relationship is a conversation, that unpredictable exchange of words between two people.
In this digital age so much of communication is one-sided, either spouting out our thoughts on a social media platform or taking in information, passive reception of a story that unfolds for us on a screen. Two-way conversation is hard work, and we are out of practice. We run into unexpected emotions and obstacles. Talking with the people we love the most has the highest stakes and just starting a more intimate conversation can be difficult. Hence I’ve found that the following tool has been extremely helpful in building meaningful conversations with both my spouse and my children.
This is a simple tool that can be adapted for any age and can be used in any circumstance. The hardest part may be getting your loved one to indulge you in using a structured approach to your next 20 minutes of conversation. But once you have a willing conversation partner, using this format can help you to craft your conversation in a way that avoids misunderstanding and sets you up for deeper connections.
Here’s how it works. Simply invite someone to join you in a structured conversation. Take one of the following topics at a time, and each person takes a moment to share their thoughts about that topic:
1. Appreciations: What are you thankful for in general? In relation to me as a person?
2. New Information: Is there any information we should know about each other but haven’t had time to talk about?
3. Puzzles: What are you wondering about? Is there anything keeping you awake at night?
Now that we’ve built some rapport and we’ve established that we appreciate each other, it’s a better time to air out our differences.
4. Requests For Change: Is there anything about me that bugs you? It’s very helpful when someone you love gives you permission to share things that are causing conflict.
5. Hopes, Wishes, and Dreams: Here’s where the real vulnerability comes in. What are those hidden wishes you hardly dare to admit to yourself? Sharing them with a trusted loved one builds connection and may even help turn those dreams into a reality!
I hope that using this tool will strengthen your relationships, even ones that may feel strained.
Think of it as feeding a living organism. The more you connect on an intimate level with your loved ones the stronger and healthier your shared life will be!