How to take your Friendships to a new Level

Interested in learning to be a better friend, parent, or spouse?

One of the ways to take your friendships to a new level is to learn to implement a few skills that coaches use. A commitment to developing these skills will improve your friendships, strengthen your parenting, and deepen intimacy in your marriage.  Here are three things that coaches commit to in every conversation that you can apply in your relationships.

Listening

1.  Be Completely Present in your Conversations

Have you ever been in a conversation with a person who clearly wasn’t listening or whose eyes wandered the whole time you were talking? It’s so frustrating to talk to a person who looks like she would rather be somewhere else. Don’t be that guy (or girl).  When you are in a conversation with a friend, your child, or your spouse, tune everything else out and be completely present.  Make eye contact and don’t look around.  This discipline is worth the effort.

2.  Learn to Listen

It is remarkable to experience being listened to because of how rare it is. If you commit to listen carefully to a person, hanging on every word that they say, over time you will build deep trust and intimacy.  Remember that if you are talking you are not listening. In a coaching conversation, my goal is to talk 20 percent of the time and listen 80 percent of the time.  Married people, listen to your spouse.  If you are a parent, your kids need you to put down your iphone and listen.  As a friend, commit to being completely present and listen well.

3.  Commit to asking questions

Most people (including me) like to talk about themselves. On the rare occasion that I encounter a person who is present in a conversation, listens carefully and asks probing questions I am always encouraged. When I ask people questions about them or their life, I am taking an interest in them and communicating that I care about them.  Question asking is a skill that may not come naturally, but can be developed.  The most powerful questions are open-ended rather than closed. Open-ended questions can’t be responded to with a simple yes or no. Powerful questions draw a person into the conversation and communicate that you are deeply interested in the person.

Take your friendships to a new level by being completely present in your conversations, learning to listen, and committing to asking questions.

What would you add to these three skills?  Continue the conversation by commenting.

Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.

  1. Make meeting the other person’s needs the top item on the agenda. In most interactions there are things I want to accomplish- knowledge to share, advice to give, behavior to modify. When I set my agenda aside and help the other person with what they need in that moment, I am more successful in the interaction.

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  2. Another tidbit- In one study doctors only let a patient talk for an average of 23 seconds before interrupting! http://articles.latimes.com/1999/jan/25/health/he-1368
    Needless to say we doctors need to work on the whole listening thing!

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  3. ‘Revisit the conversation’ has to be the fourth point. To remember a detail, an event, a feeling shared, etc and to pursue it in a follow up conversation demonstrates that what was shared was important and has been retained. It shows that the conversation wasn’t a momentary polite interest but a genuine continuing commitment.

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  4. Very helpful. I will be passing this along to my fellow pastors and community group leaders.

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  5. I know a few people who are good at listening and can ask thoughtful questions but rarely share much about themselves. Friendship to me means sharing experiences: telling about how God just answered a prayer or commiserating over a recent disappointment, struggles as a parent etc.
    I think this list is a good start but it’s frustrating to try to start a friendship with someone who is a listener and have honed the art of asking questions but remain aloof.

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    1. Agree. I think that this is experience is far less common however then those who struggle with listening. It seems that great listeners are a rare find. But certainly a friendship with one who refuses to engage is difficult!

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