Some types of conversation are more effective at turning up that dial. When people continue to only engage in small talk, they keep their friendship dial turned down to “Acquaintance.”
To get good conversations going – the ones that turn up the friendship dial – think of a conversation as something like a tree. When you make a comment, you add a branch to the tree. When your friend makes a comment, they add a branch. In a good conversation, you keep this going, each continuing to add branches.
Try my trick to make sure that you get to one of those good, effective conversations:
Make sure that your comments make it easy for your friend to add another branch to the tree.
Say your friend asks, “How was your weekend?”
You could respond, “Good.”
But, this doesn’t make it easy for your friend to add another branch.
On the other hand, say you respond, “Good! I finished building a new bookshelf and I love how it turned out! How was your weekend?”
This time you’ve made it really easy for your friend to add branches. They could ask for details about how or why you built the shelf, or they could tell you about their own weekend.
Let’s just imagine they respond with, “Nice! Mine was good too – my brother was in town and we went to the Pirates game.”
You made it easy for your friend to add branches, so they did. Your friend also made it easy for you to add the next branch: you could now ask about their brother’s visit, or share that you watched the game on TV and chat about some of the game’s highlights. Either of these makes it easy for your friend to add another branch to the tree.
You can always make it easy for your friend to add branches to the tree with my rules of thumb:
1) Avoid one-word responses. They abruptly shorten the conversation. They can also send a message that you’re not interested in friendship with the person.
2) Respond to a friend’s question or comment, plus add a friendly comment of your own.
For example, if your friend says, “That thunderstorm kept me awake all night last night!”, you could respond with something like, “Ugh, sorry to hear that,” plus add a comment of your own, “Honestly, I slept right through it! I was shocked to see my patio chairs all tipped over this morning.”
3) Respond to your friend’s question or comment, plus add a return question of your own. In the example above, if your friend says, “That thunderstorm kept me awake all night last night,” you could respond, “Ugh, sorry to hear that,” plus ask a return question like, “Were there many branches down on your street?”
I’ll be sharing more tips for turning up the dial on your friendships in my next few emails. I’ll also be opening an entire course on how to deepen your friendships soon.
This is a life-changing course if you want to transform superficial connections to deep friendships and feel sick of being stuck in the casual friend zone.