How to Improve Your Relationships
by Angie Miller
How to Improve Your Relationships by Asking the Right Questions
Sometimes the most interesting conversations happen in the most unsuspecting places. When I travel to speak at conferences I always find this to be the case. While it’s amazing to share my passion with like-minded professionals and to learn from some of the best, I also appreciate that there’s a different type of learning that takes place when the sessions are over. The conversation becomes more about life and less about business. This is when we share stories and connect through our experiences, and these are the stories that stay with me long after the conference is over.
One such story was told recently at Optima, a conference held in Arizona by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. After our sessions, one of my colleagues shared a story about about questions and how he used them to create a more loving connection with his wife. Naturally I was intrigued, because if you read my blogs you know how fascinated I am with questions.
My colleague learned that when he and his wife would come home from work she wanted to discuss the events of her day, while he preferred to unwind in silence. He soon realized that what she really wanted was what we all want, the validation of someone caring enough to ask about our day, and listening with empathy and understanding as we share our thoughts and feelings.
Questions can help us initiate personal change, and they can also strengthen our relationships with others. That said, not all questions are created equally, and the type of questions we ask makes all the difference. Some questions can be answered with a simple yes or no, while some lead to deeper, more meaningful conversation. When it comes to asking questions there are so many possibilities, but regardless of the person we’re communicating with we can keep the conversation flowing and gain greater insight if we keep a few tips in mind:
- Avoid close-ended questions. Close-ended questions are those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. They’re dead end questions that don’t lead anywhere. They feel choppy, like you’re interviewing the person vs. having a conversation with them. “Did you like the movie?” “Are you hungry?”
- Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are leading questions that open the door to more in-depth communication. Open-ended question require a person to reflect before they answer. Their answers are more revealing and we greater insight into their thoughts and feelings. An open-ended question leads to a deeper understanding of the person we’re communicating with and helps us learn more about them.
- Open-ended questions often begin with: why, how, what, describe, tell me about ___________, how do you feel about ________ what do you think about _______.
There are so many questions we can ask to foster a deeper connection with those we care about. Questions open the door to better communication and more meaningful relationships, and as far as I’m concerned that’s a powerful way to build bonds that can last a lifetime.
Best to you in Health and Happy Relationships!
Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com