When you get together with your friends, do you play more than catch-up? Do you intentionally seek ways to inspire them?
Recently our family had a crazy week. Two separate car accidents in less than a week totaled two of our cars. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in either accident. Yet the week following the accident made me notice a question I often hear when I get together with friends: “So, what’s new?” I’ve asked it of others a million times. Only this time, after the two accidents, I really didn’t want anything new; at least that kind of new.
That got me to thinking, though, about the What’s new? question. How often do we simply use that question as a convenient conversation starter and let it roll from there, subconsciously defaulting to a “catch-up” mentality? Not that “catching up” is a bad thing. True friendship is measured, in part, by the ability to share the circumstances of our life; our struggles, our victories and our fears.
But what if we played more than catch-up? What if we were to pick a topic to discuss the next time we got together with a close friend? What if we were to nudge our relationship to be more intentional at inspiring one another?
Here’s one way it could happen. Choose one of the following questions and propose discussing it with a close friend the next time you meet. Frame the question to be about you. This may appear counter-intuitive because, after all, you’re trying to inspire another. But by framing it this way, you invite them to speak into your life—signaling your own willingness to listen—and you increase their curiosity to know how you might answer it about them.
Try one of these five questions, or come up with your own. (If you create your own, I suggest you start with forward-looking questions rather than reflective questions about the past. Forward looking questions tend to be more inspiring.)
- If you didn’t see me for couple of years, but heard that I did something remarkable, what would it be?
- If you could introduce me to anyone in the world to spend time with, who would it be and why?
- If you could plant an affirming thought in my head, to be recalled whenever I’m having a bad day, what would it be?
- What book would be most helpful for me to read and why?
- If I were to offer a course to help others based on my life experiences and skills, what would it be titled?
A word of caution. Keep in mind that people process questions differently. Some will be able to respond immediately with an answer, others will ponder to collect their thoughts. So don’t just spring this on them, or they might brush the question off with a quick response or a joke. (“I think you should spend time with Mickey Mouse because you’re Goofy.”) Instead, give them plenty of time to think about it before you meet.
The next time a friend asks “What’s new?” ask yourself if that might be an opportunity to play more than catch-up.
What questions would you add to this list?