Curiosity and questions. Get curious. It might take a relationship to the next level. Sure, being kind is important, but maybe curiosity holds an even greater power? Curiosity may even develop into empathy for others.
It’s about asking questions – the right questions.
Curiosity and Questions Spark Relationships
In 1997 five researchers published a paper. It described an experiment they set up where strangers took turns asking each other 36 specific questions in exact order.
At the end of the experiment, it was proven by feedback that these questions created a sense of closeness. In less than an hour, some of the former strangers even exchanged contact information to continue their budding relationship.
Research in this area had already shown that a key pattern in developing a close relationship includes:
- personal self-disclosure.
The researchers developed their 36 questions to make this happen.
The study, “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings” is here. You can read about how they designed the experiment and all the details in how they administered it. I found it really interesting to read.
I imagine it would be fun to do this with your long-term friends and your spouse. Curiosity and questions will create a spark in those relationships also – and sometimes our long-term relationships might even need a spark!
The “Sharing Game” – 36 Questions
Curiosity and questions – if you just want the questions themselves, you can find them below. Within the experiment, the questions were given in three sets. See the appendix of the paper to read the exact instructions on how the game was set up.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “we are both in this room feeling…”
26. Complete this sentence “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them: be honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
These questions were developed by ArthurAron – State University of New York at Stony Brook, Edward Melinat – California Graduate School of Family Psychology, Elaine N. Aron – State University of New York at Stony Brook, Robert Darrin Vallone – University of California, Santa Cruz, Renee J. Bator – Arizona State University — for the paper “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings”
Would you be curious enough to try this experiment?
Does this experiment spark your curiosity? Would you try these questions with someone you don’t know well? What about your spouse? Or relatives? Would you want to feel more close to anyone in particular? Curiosity and questions spark relationships – a winning combination!
What would you give to those you love… if you could? I’d suggest it’s not about what we can buy.
A year ago I found this poem by Elaine V. Eamons in a child’s picture book. It captured my heart.
So much that I would give you
hovers out of my poor giving.
Song within your heart forever,
faith to end all doubt,
and laughter, warm and gold,
when you begin to grow too serious.
And always near,
the good companionship of trees and birds;
and always, for your beauty-loving ear,
music when you have need of it
and words that pleasure you and rest you, softly spoken.
Unnumbered good days, peace of a starry night,
and love from dawn to dawn that’s an unbroken deep certainty in you…
I have no right to dream of it — but never doubt
I should give you such presents, if I could.
In addition to all those items mentioned in the poem above, I would add:
- deep, rejuvenating sleep every night
- healthy food when you’re hungry
- loyal friends
- hope for the future
- the opportunity to pause and give thanks – ThanksLiving!
Are all these things really out of our ability to give?
Could we influence in some small way?
What would you give if you could?
Leave a comment and add to the list!
Who comes to mind first when you think of giving?
One of the phrases that stopped my reading was, “love from dawn to dawn that’s an unbroken deep certainty in you”. Read more about feeling loved here.
A post I read last week held such beautiful parental love – it caused me to reflect on my relationship with our grown children and the newest adventure of being a grandparent. Do you have the privilege of raising (or being a part of raising) a little one? Take a look at “While you were walking.”
What is positive thanksliving?
Good friends help us appreciate the journey.
How would you identify a good friend? For me, loyalty is a necessary value. What other values would you identify in a good friend? Perhaps: empathetic, trustworthy, supportive, humorous…
Do you have any of those traits?
To get you thinking about your own ability to be a good friend, I’ve done some research. Here are five points I’ve found on how to be a good friend:
1 – Though you can’t calm the storm, you can walk with them through it.
Being there – no advice or fixing – can be the way you’re a good friend.
2 – Not the same kind of weird, but you can appreciate their weirdness.
Dis-similarity can be a joy – it creates opportunities to celebrate your differences as friends.
3 – Friendship doesn’t need to be a big thing.
Rather, it’s a million little things all woven together.
4 – Good friends will tell you what you need to hear – not just what you want to hear.
They’re happy when you’re happy and sad when you’re sad and can empathize while nudging you toward a healthier state.
5. A friend gives – knowing full well the cost – expecting nothing in return.
Being compassionate and giving while setting boundaries for both of you.
Are you a good friend to others?
Is there anything you’d add to the above list? (I’m pretty sure you could come up with more!)
We all have a ways to go before we’re perfect friends… but as long as we’re improving, we’re headed in the right direction. And sometimes it’s about being a good friend before we can identify those who are trying to be our friend.
How can you be a good friend – what will you change or do differently this year?
One of the things I have determined I will do in this next season is to pray more for my friends. Sometimes that’s the only thing a friend can do to help…
I’ll also be re-reading this book:
Life goes on.
And as positive as that statement is, it can be a jarring reality when we are working through a sad goodbye. Photos are an important part of grieving, as is reviewing memories. The act of grieving may never end, but it does change. It softens and the edges fray…
We want to say, “You should be here!” But that person or situation has carried on, without us. It’s possible to be whole, to rebuild, to find new dreams, or re-shape old ones. But first, we need to grieve. If someone you know is walking this path, give them the latitude to grieve.
Grief is yet another way to express love.
Love strong and deep, even as life goes on.
“Most do not understand the importance of grief and how to process our complicated feelings. Grief is God’s gift to help us say goodbye to someone or something precious to us. We can’t embrace the good that is still in our lives without processing our grief in healthy ways.”
~ Kim Frederickson
Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people, even as they process their grief.
As imperfect as we all are, we do have worth. Great worth.
Did you hear me?
You have great worth.
Your self worth is not dependent on another person accepting you, affirming you, helping you, believing you, admiring you, approving of you, buying into your ideas, or not, or anything else outside of yourself.
You have great worth because you are here.
You were born for a purpose.
Even if no other human on this planet can understand that, you still have great worth. Perhaps, in this moment, even you can’t pinpoint why you were put on this earth, however, you do have great worth. I’m convinced of it… God does not make mistakes.
You are not a mistake.
You have value.
It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. Your physical appearance, perceived ability or inabilities will not have an impact on the person you’ve been designed to become. Even if you are struggling right now with horrible issues – seen or unseen – there will be a way through. There will.
Because you have great worth.
Is it hard to believe it?
Is it hard to believe you have great worth?
OK. It could be that believing in your own worth is hard at times. Maybe all the hoopla and hoorays about starting the new year fresh is painful to hear and read. Maybe you’re afraid. Perhaps you can’t see a way forward right now… (even if on the outside you’re putting up a good front. Or not.)
Alright. OK. Take a breath. And another. One more breath.
Is there someone in your life who can believe for you – can someone believe you have great worth – and do it on your behalf? Just for a bit. Can that person believe in your worth, until you’re strong enough to believe it yourself?
I believe you have great worth.
If you’re reading this, know that I’m thinking of, and writing to YOU.
Yes – you.
Don’t give up.
Put that alcohol, that drug, that 50th eclair down. You have great worth. I’ll believe it for you until you can believe it yourself. It will get better. You will make it through. The mess you feel you’re in will pass. Relationships can be renewed, rebuilt, re-imagined. Be kind to yourself. Any mistake you’ve made… God can forgive.
There is grace available. Always.
Because you have great worth.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14
Want to feel and explore the love of God – read this.
NOTE: is there someone in your sphere of influence who you sense is struggling? Reach out. Tell that person that they have worth – that they matter. It will make a difference. (Others did that for me – that’s how I can know.) And if they can’t believe – yet – then believe it for them.
This first day of a new year has me sifting through conflicting emotions.
People I cherish are celebrating the birth of a long awaited baby. Oh, what joy in a dream realized. And yet others are coping with the untimely death of a sister and friend – the first in their circle to pass into eternity. It feels like it’s too soon to let go of her, as everyone else believes they have decades still to live.
Same day – two diametrically opposite sets of emotions.
As this day unfolds for me, I’m going through the collections my mother has amassed over her 84 years. It’s a small apartment, but it’s full. I’m trying to help her decide what is necessary for the next chapter in her life, and what she can let go of – either to someone else (not me) or into a garbage. She’s sorting through physical artifacts that mirror the emotions of the other people I referenced above. Good memories, sad ones, joyful experiences and tragic happenings. It’s all here in her stuff.
We are all the same – we will all experience the scale of events from joy to tears.
What do we do with it all?
The value of a moment.
Do we know the value of each happening at the moment it occurs? Not always. Just as Dr. Seuss says, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
Even the bad moments can create valuable memories.
Maybe that needs to be our goal as we go through the days… creating value in the moments, regardless of the emotions – good or bad…
What do you think?
How will you mine the value of a moment – this year?
Kindness is a good way to mine even the bad moments. Here are 25 ideas on how to be kind for no reason…
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.