Maximize Your Christmas Conversations: 3 Techniques for Having Deeper, More Engaging Interactions

Christmas is a time for joy, celebration, and connecting with those we love and those we are related to. Whether you’re catching up with old friends, chatting around the dinner table with your extended family, or making small talk with strangers, the season is full of opportunities for conversation. But sometimes, these interactions can feel superficial or unfulfilling. If you want to make the most of your conversations and connect with others in a meaningful way, read on for three tips to upgrade your holiday chit-chat.

Narrow the scope of your question.

Avoid questions that are too broad, such as:

“How are you doing?”

“What’s new with you?”

“How have you been?”

“How’s school/work?”

These questions set the other person up to give you a pretty standard response of a one word answer like “good”, “not much”, “alright”.

Instead try narrowing on your questions that will broaden their response and engage them. In dinner groups, we like to call these questions discovery based questions that are motivated by a genuine desire to understand and connect with the other person. You’re trying to find something you don’t already know.

“Who is someone that has had an impact on you this year?”

“What class are you enjoying most at school?”

“When is your next trip planned?”

“Where did you find that sweater? I love it!”

“Why did you choose to study finance?”

“How did you learn so much about football?”

Narrowing your question does two things. It shows them you genuinely care by the question you are asking them and it helps them to focus their selection and gets them out of an auto response that typically kills the conversation instantly.

Here is another common example, if you know they’ve just gone somewhere on vacation don’t ask them, “How was your trip?” ask them, “What was the best day of your trip?”, “Tell me about your favorite meal?” Heck this will even work after Christmas break when everyone is back in the office. Upgrade “how was your break?” to “what activity this break did you enjoy the most?”

Having a great conversation ultimately boils down to asking good questions. Asking good questions is a skill which means all you need to do is practice.

Ask another question before getting to your opinion.

Whenever you ask a question it can be tempting to immediately rush in and share your opinion right away. Challenge yourself, hold back, and ask another question before you do.  The best tip at this monument is to remain curious.

Let’s take the first question from the last one as an example:

“Who is someone that has had an impact on you this year?”

“My co-work John has been fantastic”

“Nice. What makes John fantastic?”

The great thing about this step is you can keep going. See how long of a string of questions you can ask.

Love the person more than your point.

You don’t have to win the conversation. In a world of hot takes and heated opinions it can be tempting to battle back with Uncle Steve. Let me save you time and heartache. You don’t have to win. Love the person more than you love your point.

My friend Geoff Surratt recently put together a list of phrases that will work perfectly in these monuments.

  1. You may be right.
  2. I don’t know enough to form an opinion.
  3. That’s certainly an interesting point of view.
  4. I don’t actually remember.
  5. I didn’t really know him.
  6. That’s definitely a possibility.
  7. You have a point.
  8. I hadn’t heard that
  9. I really don’t know
  10. How about that!

Allow this season to be one that strengthens our ability to connect with those who come into our path. Whether you’re catching up with old friends or chatting with extended family, these techniques can help you create deeper connections and more enjoyable interactions with those around you.  So the next time you find yourself in a conversation, remember to focus your questions, remain curious, and let go of the need to win. By following these tips, we can make the most of our conversations, strengthen our connections with others, and create community with those around us. 

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