“How’s it going?” “How was work?” “How’s your day been?” Often questions like these can be so overused that they invite almost meaningless answers. “I’m good, thanks.” “Work’s going great.” “The weather’s been awful lately, hasn’t it?” Conversations like this can be second nature but are we giving these questions their due?
Whatever we’re going through, we all have an internal depth that extends way beyond the time it takes to say “Hi”. By not allowing the time for a full conversation, it is almost like we are dying a little everyday. We may be recovering from a painful experience or in the pursuit of a large-scale ambition or dream. Yet despite this, social norms evoke short sound-bite responses that pressure us into a sunny façade no matter what we are dealing with inside.
These habits may help us remain on schedule, but it’s important to remember that we always have people in our lives who we can be authentic with. It just takes finding them, or getting to that deeper level with someone new. In reality it’s likely that there are more willing friends around you than you think!
It’s about building culture.
Through open and honest communication, we create a culture where people can be interdependent and rise to the occasion to help each other. We learn that we don’t have to fight our battles alone. We find ways in which our relationships with others can grow. We learn the strength of our bonds and the unconditional nature of love. We feel connected with each other and we trust each other; even in the workplace, a positive and effective level of communication builds employee’s trust and engagement and strengthens their sense of belonging to their organization, all of which contribute highly to the company’s success.
The only way we can really break through in our relationships is through authentic communication. No one can help you if you’re being someone you’re not. Father Moon said that “when constructing a building, one must lay down concrete. If one digs shallow and puts in the concrete, one cannot build a strong building.” This analogy can be applied to our relationships. The strength of our relationships comes from laying a deep and concrete foundation. So where do we start today?
Talk about the deep stuff.
There are many ways to start deeper conversation and build genuine relationships. Often they can happen spontaneously, we begin with small-talk and things can lead to deeper topics. Try these unique and deeper conversation starters, and then come up with some of your own!
-Pick a hot issue in the news right now. What does this suggest the world needs more of, and what will it take to actually get there?
–I’m having trouble with __________. Have you dealt with something like this before, and how did you get over it?
–How can I be a better __________ (friend, husband, wife, daughter, son, boss) to you?
-What legacy do you want to leave your children? The world?
–How’s life? (not said casually, but slowly and sincerely, with eye contact.)
–If you had to give advice to a crowd, what would you say?
-Choose an interesting quote by Father Moon and ask your friend or family member, What do you think about this? You’ll be surprised how much perspective you can get by studying spiritual teachings and scripture with another person!
-With any topic your friend brings up, even if it is something you’re not generally interested in, find an aspect of interest and pursue that. Or pick a topic in which you both have a mutual interest and talk about it!
Before you begin, remember:
1. It’s important that you always approach anything at your own pace and never feel pressured to have to share anything. If expressing yourself is difficult then inform the other person. Be honest about your honest communication.
2. Communication works both ways and it is important that you respect what is shared with you in the same way that you’d like what you share to be respected.
3. Be prepared to accept anything that the other person might say. They have your best interests in mind but sometimes you will be told something you might not want to hear. The benefit of sharing our deeper thoughts with the ones we love is that we open ourselves to new perspectives.
Let us know, how has open communication strengthened your relationships? What are some of your tried-and-true conversation starters? Is there someone in your life that you want to share with on a deeper level? It may not seem easy in the hustle and bustle of daily life, but being vulnerable can save your life.