How to Get Closer in a Conversation

The following is based on the excellent research of Brant Burleson. Here is how to get closer to your mate in a conversation:

1. Start with the intention to benefit your mate. This is more important than it seems at first. It is, in fact, the foundation for everything else. Give up on what's in it for you. Be committed to trying to make this conversation help her — truly and deeply benefit her. Not just make her feel good (although that is certainly nice). Not just flattery. Try to help her become genuinely happier and saner. Have a clear purpose for talking.

2. Be curious about her. Be interested. Try to find out what makes her tick. Ask lots of open-ended questions. These are questions that cannot be answered with a yes or a no. You don't only listen so that you can help. Listening itself helps.

3. Imagine yourself experiencing what she's describing. What would it be like for you? How would you feel if it happened to you? This is empathy (learn more about empathy).

4. Ask questions about her feelings. "I would have been afraid if that happened to me. Were you? No? How did you manage not feeling afraid?" Or, "You must have been shocked." Explore her feelings.

5. Pay special attention to any utterances of feelings. Don't let them go by unexplored.

6. Never tell her what she should think or make her feel wrong for anything. Do not invalidate her in any way.

7. Keep the conversation more about feelings and less about opinions. Feelings are the core of closeness.

8. Keep the conversation more about personal experiences and less about "world events." And even when it strays to subjects of interest, keep the conversation about her personal feelings about them and why she has those feelings.

9. When you communicate, try your best to communicate your feelings rather than your opinions. Reveal yourself. Reveal your feelings. Reveal your intentions.

10. Be honest. Don't shmooze her. Don't give insincere flattery or in any way deceive her, even for a "good reason."

Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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