motherhood wholehearted living

Take Your Friendships Up a Step with THIS Tip

Have you ever left a conversation feeling warmed from the outside – in?

And better yet, do you ever wonder how you can leave people with that feeling?

I know a woman who is the master of this. She smiles with warmth, she listens, she raises her eyebrows in genuine interest. I leave every conversation wondering how I possibly shared so much of myself in five minutes and why I feel so happy.

Through each conversation with my radiant friend, I’ve begun to see Tracy’s greatest strength:

She asks questions.

And then, often before I can even turn the question on her, she asks me another question so evocative that I find myself talking… once again!

Grow your friendships with THESE 16 questions!Conversation & Friendship

Recently here at The Life On Purpose Movement, we’ve been discussing the absence of traditional villages for women to rely on and what it takes to purposefully build one.

What building a village really boils down to is building friendship.

But friendship now doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids running loose in our neighborhoods or, for that matter, when we were college coeds organizing our social calendars.

Building friendship as adults can be hard. We’re short on time, energy, and—if we’re really honest—courage. We’ve learned that some people open up easily, while others don’t. And we’ve also noticed that sometimes we’re bursting with things to talk about with a friend… Other times, and for a hundred reasons, we just aren’t.

In short, if friendship were easy, modern villages would abound.

So how can we combine my friend Tracy’s superpower with a desire to take our friendships up a step and build a two-way, supportive network?

It’s this simple: We can ask a lot of questions.

I love these words from writer Justin Zoradi:

“What so many don’t realize is that the secret to building relationships isn’t in the words you say, but in the questions you ask.”

Many of you lean on your natural curiosity to help you generate great questions. But even the best conversationalist draws a blank every now and then. 😉 So no matter how confident you feel in your conversation skills, here are 16 questions to use as a springboard during your next chat with a friend.

16 Conversation-Promoting Questions to Ask Your Friends

1. What did you like about where you grew up? OR if your friend moved around a lot: Which place did you love the most, and what made it special?

2. What are your parents like?

3. How did you meet your spouse? When did you first know you loved him?

4. Do you get more energy from being with people or being alone?

5. Do you have any passion projects you’re working on right now?

6. When you were growing up, what was your dream job? Are you doing any part of it now?

7. Seen any good movies lately? In your opinion, what makes a movie really, really good?

8. How do you usually celebrate your birthday? How would you most like to celebrate it?

9. Do you know what your love language is? And your spouse’s or kids’?

10. Where have you traveled?

11. What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?

12. What are your favorite books?

13. How do you tend to make decisions? Do you research till your brain is fried or just go with your gut? Or maybe somewhere in the middle?

14. In what areas are you the most frugal? The least?

15. What are the things that your kids hear you say over and over?

16. What habits do you have that are working for you?

Occasionally I make a friend whose exterior is hard to get through. It reminds me of watching one of my kids pick at a bandaid. He tugs and prods, tests and tries again—until finally, that (probably nonexistent) owie sees the light of day!

Sometimes a friend or family member may not run with the first few questions you throw out there. But if you have enough questions in your repertoire and if you care enough to keep asking them, I bet you’ll get through.

And because they bear repeating, the words of Helen Keller, from my previous post: “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”


I seem to be on a “questions” kick lately! I recently wrote 10 questions to help you discover your WHY. If you’d like a free copy, sign up here! (Be sure to check the box for “10 Questions to Discover Your Why.”) 

photo credit: alt design summit. If you look closely, you can see a sliver of me in the top photo. 🙂 

10 Comments

  • Reply
    Katie
    October 5, 2016 at 6:58 am

    I just wanted to let you know I really love this series. Last week I was feeling so lonely. Rather, feeling a lack of true connection. And then I saw your post, In Absence of a Village, Build One. It cracked me open. I started thinking of the village I do have near and far, and how I can really be more open to building my village. Both this week and last week are so on point. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      October 5, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Your comment is EVERYthing, Katie! Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your experience with us. I’m with you—susceptible to loneliness and isolation but much happier when I remind myself of the people I already have and nurture those relationships. Best wishes, girl!

    • Reply
      Azeezat Aboderin
      February 25, 2017 at 1:15 am

      Hi Katie and Erica, I’m Azeezat, I hope you both don’t mind me replying here. A friend just shared your post Erica, about savouring motherhood, and then i clicked the link to the village building post you mentioned Katie, and then i clicked a link in that article and found myself here 🙂
      I just wanted to say Katie, it had the same effect obn me, especially the part about being the village you want to have (not in tbose exact words) but you know.
      It’s been a whilst since you commented Katie, how’s the village building going? I want to work on mine too, and i guess i just wondered, what’s been working for you?
      How about you Erica, i love the tips you shared, are there any things you particularly reccommend having had time to implement these tips? I really like you suster in law’s gesture by the way.

      Alright take care you two

      Xxx

      Azeezat

  • Reply
    Heidi
    October 5, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I think the genuine interest is also key. Without it, the questions will not be effective. I also had a friend like yours, and her genuine interest in others was something I really admired.

  • Reply
    Cheri
    October 7, 2016 at 3:07 am

    Being observant is a gift that you have as your lift me … and others up! Thank you. I’m glad you mentioned you were in that first picture or I would have missed it! 😊

  • Reply
    Weekly Best, October 14 - Simply For Real
    October 14, 2016 at 5:01 am

    […] Take Your Friendships Up a Step With This Tip – “The secret to building relationships isn’t in the words you say, but in the questions you ask.” Justin Zoradi […]

  • Reply
    Theresa Boedeker
    October 14, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Great post. I notice that often people don’t ask real questions that seem deeper than a puddle. And every once in a while when someone does ask a genuine question about me and is truly curious to know my answer, I am in awe and so surprised that I often fumble for a few seconds wondering if they really are interested. Yes, we need to ask more questions if we are going to take friendships deeper. Great list of questions here.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      October 15, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Theresa! I chuckled at your “deeper than a puddle” description, and I totally related to what you said about fumbling to see if someone is really interested – on the occasion that they ask a thoughtful question. I think I do that every time!

  • Reply
    Lorna
    October 26, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Hi Erica, I have recently started reading your blog. I really appreciate your depth and insight. I am a new mom and have lots to learn. 🙂

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      October 26, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Lorna! I’m SO glad to have you here! I’m an eight-years-in mom and still have a lot to learn too. 🙂 We’re in this together! You have a good night!

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