By Bryan Orr

Often in business and in everyday conversation, we have this belief that the more knowledgeable, inspiring, or clever piece of advice we add, the more we will enhance those around us.

Over time and with some mentorship by others, I’ve come to realize that much of what I have to say and add to a conversation ends up being almost worthless to others. Although you may have a listener say to you, “Oh, that’s a really great idea,” soon after the conversation is over, the so called “inspiring thoughts” have left their consciousness because it only tickled their ears, but it never took root.

Is it important and worthy to have conversations with others that are more than the typical chit chat and surface topics? Absolutely. However, the question remains as to how do we impact others if we don’t verbally insert our experience and knowledge, our ideas and opinions?

This is how you do to: Ask more questions. Find their “why.” Then listen to their answers and probe deeper.

Here are a few ways that asking questions, listening and offering less of your ideas actually make a greater impact in people’s lives.

Ask Questions

Start conversations with the intention of asking at least three questions of that person. Don’t feel like you must start out with some deep question right off the bat. Ask a question that will help you find out more about how that person thinks and what they find important, thus giving you a better idea of who they are.

Dig a Little Deeper

People naturally evade direct questions because it’s not a commonplace approach. It may even feel intimidating, so it can trigger a defensive response. Ask it again in a different way until you get an answer. By getting someone to answer a specific question, you’ve not only made the answer theirs (this won’t just be your opinion now), but you’ve empowered them and given them a more concrete “why” for what they believe.

Make a Connection

Now that you’ve looked for their story, you’ve listened and heard the impact from them, don’t forget to close out the conversation with connection. Connecting their story, their answers, and how you can, or have, applied something similar.

Having these types of conversations in business AND in social and personal relationships, will undoubtedly benefit others. Simultaneously adding depth to your relationships by learning how to connect with people on a deeper and lasting level.

Over time, you will be seen as a person who encourages, inspires, motivates and genuinely cares about others. Not because of what you’ve added, but by helping people look within themselves. Giving those around you the confidence to genuinely walk with more intentional purpose and to see the areas in their lives that should be cultivated.

What are some of the most impactful conversations others have had with you?
Did they start with a question or a statement?