by Jonathan Robinson: Have you ever been on a plane and wanted to start a conversation with the person next to you, but you didn’t know what to say?
Have you ever been attracted to a stranger at a party, but missed the opportunity to meet him or her because you were too afraid to introduce yourself? If you’re like most people, situations like these happen fairly often. When I noticed that I frequently failed to talk to people because I didn’t know what to say, I set out to find a fool-proof way to start a pleasant conversation with virtually anyone. To avoid looking ridiculous or desperate, I wanted to make sure the way I began the conversation did not make me look like a complete idiot. Commenting on the weather is one way to start a conversation, but it’s so trite as to be embarrassing. After much trial and error, I came upon a method that can immediately lead to a meaningful, intimate conversation even with a total stranger. Mastering this method can transform your ability to meet and befriend anyone you desire, from a co-worker to a potential mate.
Before revealing the technique, it’s useful to understand why it works. The reason why meeting people is often difficult is because we’re all secretly afraid of strangers. We fear that they might be weird, boring, or even reject us—which makes it difficult when you’re trying to meet someone new. To help us overcome our natural fear of meeting someone new, it helps if we give people a logical reason why we’re talking to them, and a simple way they can assist us. In addition, if you hope to have more than a brief conversation with someone you just met, it’s important to ask him or her a question that can lead to a long, fascinating conversation. The Instant Intimacy Question accomplishes all these requirements.
The essence of the technique is to go up to a person you’d like to meet and say the following sentences in a sincere voice: “Excuse me, I’m wondering if you can help me out for a moment. I’m getting together with some friends later at my house to watch a video, and I want to rent a really great movie, but I don’t know what to rent. I’m wondering if you might be able to suggest a movie that you thought was really good?” Once you say these three sentences, let the person you’re speaking to think about it for a moment. If he or she has a hard time coming up with something, simply say, “Can you think of any movie that you liked that really touched you in a special way?”
Asking a person this question accomplishes several things. First, it begins some form of contact. If you don’t talk to people, you can’t get to know them. Second, it gives the two of you something relevant to talk about. Talking about the weather is a dead end, but talking about the movies each of you has enjoyed can go on forever. Third, the answer you receive will give you a lot of information about the person you just met. If he or she tells you they loved the movie Friday the Thirteenth, then you know they might not be a good match for you if you dislike those types of movies. On the other hand, if he or she mentions a movie that you’ve seen and also loved, then you know you have some things in common. Lastly, when you ask people for their help and advice, it indicates that you value their opinion. Indirectly, you are giving them a complement, and most people enjoy being treated with such respect.
Once people offer one or two movie suggestions to you, you can naturally begin an enjoyable conversation with them. For example, if they mention a movie you’ve already seen, you can talk about how much you also liked that movie. You can even begin talking about what you liked about the movie, and why you thought it was so good. As each of you talks about your experience of enjoying a favorite movie, you’ll notice that a feeling of connection inevitably takes place. If the person you’re meeting recommends a movie you’re unfamiliar with, then you can ask him or her what they liked about the movie. People like to talk about movies they love. It puts them at ease, and makes them remember a meaningful moment in their lives.
The Instant Intimacy Question can work in an amazing variety of settings, from parties to bus stops. This simple method can easily lead to intimate conversations and valuable information. After all, don’t you like to know about good movies? Movies that become popular are like the shared myths and theatrical plays of olden days. They are powerful experiences shared by a large segment of our society. When you ask someone about a favorite movie, it immediately allows him or her to reminisce about an intimate experience. If you can share such an experience with someone you just met, it creates a powerful sense of connection in a short period of time. With a little practice you’ll find the Instant Intimacy Question can easily create a wonderful connection with people you used to be too embarrassed to meet.
Jonathan Robinson is a psychotherapist, best-selling author of 12 books, and a professional speaker from Northern California. Mr. Robinson has made numerous appearances on the Oprah show, as well as many other national TV talk shows, and articles about him have appeared in USA Today, Newsweek and The Los Angeles Times. For the past 30 years he has spoken to dozens of Fortune 500 companies including Google, Microsoft, Dell Computer, Coca-Cola, and Fed-Ex.
Jonathan has written several bestseller books including, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Awakening Your Spirituality;” “The Experience of God,” “The Little Book of Big Questions;” and “Communication Miracles for Couples.” His latest book is called, “More Love, Less Conflict.” Jonathan also co-hosts the podcast “Awareness Explorers” with author Brian Tom O’Connor. This podcast focuses on revealing the easiest and most powerful practices for directly awakening to one’s true nature.
Through TV, live lectures and radio, Mr. Robinson has reached over 100 million people around the world. He is known for providing his audiences with immediately useful information presented in a fun and entertaining manner.