It happens a lot. Someone will start talking to me about their life, their likes, and their dislikes and I end up asking, “Who are you?”
A coworker started talking to me about how fast their facial hair grows. That’s it. No build up to that. Just started talking about his beard (or lack thereof) out of nowhere. I told him you really ought to get to know someone first before you relate all the minute details of your life. I then introduced myself and told him my name. I don’t think he really cared about what I had to say.
I rarely see people trying to get to know each other anymore. Most people just stick with casual conversation and talk about nothing more than their interests and general opinions. Having people to talk to is a privilege. Not everyone has that opportunity. I wouldn’t want to waste time with an interesting person by talking only about my own interests.
Here are some things you should try to get to know about the people you are interested in.
Favorites: What a person likes determines how they spend their time. Asking someone what they like gives you a pretty good idea of what kind of person they are. Many relationships begin by just spending time together doing what both people love to do.
Opinions: You can’t say you know someone if you don’t know how they feel. Knowing their opinions allows you to avoid touchy subjects and to relate to them on important issues. You wouldn’t want to find out the person you’ve been spending lots of time with actually disagrees with you about the things that are most important to you.
Stories: Everybody has a story. I’m not saying you need to know every detail about the person. Details alone don’t make a story. You can say you know their story when you know how they got to be the person they are today. Ask about their adventures. Ask about the crazy characters they met along the way. People appreciate when you listen.
I could go on about all the worthwhile things to learn about the people we meet. Everyone has talents, hopes, and dreams. It would be a shame to live among people you know nothing about.
Someone recently asked me what my best friend’s eye color is. I couldn’t think of it. Years I have spent with one of the most fascinating, beautiful, and loving individuals I have ever met and I didn’t know what color her eyes are. The same eyes I looked into as she told me how much she loves her family. The eyes I saw light up when she explained all the great things she wants to accomplish in one lifetime. I felt ashamed for forgetting those blue eyes.
Knowing people comes with time, but also requires care and attention. Relationships don’t just happen. They are built. It starts by caring about the person you are with. You can’t care about someone if you don’t know who they are.