Friday, July 22, 2011

The Uncommon Friend, Part 5: Getting to Know You

You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.       - Ann Landers

My junior year of college I lived with some other girls.   It was actually my second year living in the house, and some of the roommates had moved on and others took their place. These girls were wonderful, beautiful women of God who gave their lives to ministry, but I knew how it went. You would walk in, say a quick hello to anyone you saw in the common area, and then you would go to your room in solitary. That’s the way it always had been, at least for me. In fact, in my two years at Ohio State, I had yet to make a really good friend that actually cared about getting to know me. One day a transfer student moved in. I’d heard some rumors about her and as a result, brushed off the idea of making a new friend. I had just returned from one of my first dates with George and she came in my room and asked me how it went. “Fine,” I replied, suspicious of what she wanted. “So how long have you been dating?” she asked. “Um, like a week, or something,” I said, curtly. Clearly not getting my hint that I wanted to be left alone, she continued asking questions. “How did you meet? How did he ask you out? Where did you go on your first date? What do you like about him?....” Once I had answered all of her questions, she left my room and I thought, “What was THAT?! Doesn’t she know that you aren’t supposed to actually CARE about your roommates?” The next night was the same thing, but a new topic. “So where did you grow up? What school did you go to? What activities did you do? Who were your best friends? Do you have any siblings? Where do they live?” Eventually, I realized that this was my fate. This girl was bound and determined to learn every single thing about me. It took some time but eventually I took down my wall and this girl became my best friend, was the maid of honor at my wedding just 18 months later and even stood in the delivery room when Jonathan was born. I’m convinced we never would have become friends if she had not shown interest in learning about me and been willing to take the time to get to know me.  I’ve met others who are great at this, but this girl truly honed this into an incredible gift that God uses in great ways!

I’m not so good at this. When we first met, I can guarantee you that I forgot your name immediately because I was too busy figuring out how I could sneak in something about me into what you were telling me. “You are from California? I was born in Monterey and its one of my dreams to go back and visit someday!” Yes, this can be used as a way to form a bond with someone, but I take it to a much more self-centered level!

If I do find a way to tame my tongue and ask only other-centered questions, I rarely remember the answers people give. Have you ever had someone remember something you once told them that even you thought was insignificant? Its such a testament to that person and it always makes you think well of them, doesn’t it?  I’ve started taking notes after playdates, events, and good conversations.  I’m sure there are more technologically advanced ways of doing this, but I have an accordion file and an index card for all the women in my life. On it, I write wedding dates, names of husband, kids, dogs, sisters, etc.  I write their prayer requests, struggles, favorite foods/candies (in case a care package is ever necessary), key facts, background facts, even inside jokes between us.

One of my favorite things to do to get to know people is to gather people together and ask each other questions out of the book, “IF: The Book of Questions.” It forces people to share information about themselves and it gives everyone a laugh, too. People LOVE to talk about themselves, so give them the opportunity!  Here are some good questions you can ask a new friend, or even an old friend or spouse. There answers might surprise you!

  Who was your favorite celebrity as a child?

  What type of pets do you have?

  What is your favorite color?

  What is most memorable about your high school years?

  What word describes you best?

  What is your greatest accomplishment?

  What drives you every day?

  What is your favorite food?

  Where do you want to retire?

  What is your business goal this year?

  Where do you like to vacation?

  Who do you admire?

  What is your mission?

  If you were invisible, where would you go?

  What traits in others are you attracted to?

  What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?

  How do you want to be remembered?

  What would you do with a million dollars?

  If you were on an island, who would you want to be with? Why?

  You have a 10 minute speech to give at a high school, what is it about?

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