10 Ways to Get to Know Someone on a Deeper Level
Steps that would guide you to get to know someone better
Making acquaintances is a breeze. The real work is moving the needle towards something more than those surface level interactions. Whether it is with a new friend, potential love interest, mother-in-law, or sister, here are ten things you can do to cut through superficiality and actually get to know them in a real and meaningful way.
People are very different, and at the same time very similar. These ten things will help you deepen relationships with most people. Even so, you will still have to customize them for individuals.
1. Be a person other people would like to know .
The first rule of making friends is playing nice. You do not need to be popular or charismatic, but basic social graces go a long way in getting to know other people. People who are rude, obnoxious, self-obsessed, or always looking for an argument naturally don’t make a lot of friends.
You don’t want the other person feeling like they are being punished every time they have to hang out with you, because you think you are better than everybody else or won’t stop gossiping about mutual friends. Nobody’s asking you to be a saint, just a decent human being.
2. Give people time.
Be patient with the other person and do not push them. Many people will shut you out if you become pushy. Trust is earned, and while some people are open right from the bat, others take time to get there.
3. Suffer through small talk before diving in.
If you have just started talking to someone, do not come in hot just yet. This is obviously not true for all people, but most of us need time to size you up before spilling our guts.
You do not need to have bland conversations about the weather, but take the mundane and make a meal of it. If you are coworkers, you can start by talking about work. If you just met at a park, you can talk about what each of you is doing there. There are a million things in your environment begging to be conversation starters. Small talk is great, because it is a safe way to break the ice. It is an unspoken way to get permission to keep talking to a person or to leave them alone.
4. Observation is your friend .
Observation and awareness about yourself, the other person, and the environment will go a long way in sealing the deal. Little things like allowing someone to leave if you notice they are in a hurry or changing the subject if they are uncomfortable show that you respect them.
Observation also gives you great material to keep the conversation going organically. If you were talking about the weather and they indicate they love the summer, there’s an opportunity to ask what they love doing during the summer. If they say going to concerts, you can ask what was their first ever concert experience or what was their absolute best/worst experience at a concert.
5. Share your opinions and your story, so that it’s not an interrogation.
It may seem obvious, but do not get caught up in listening that you forget to talk as well. It does not need to be fifty-fifty, conversations never are, but just remember that knowing each other goes both ways. Personal details about your life may overwhelm the other person if your relationship isn’t there yet so utilize awareness and observation.
6. Connect on common interests .
Common interests create a sense of camaraderie, and give you something to spend time together doing or talking about. Do not exaggerate how interested you are in something just because the other person is super into it. The better route is to admit that you know a thing or two, but would be open to learning more. You could end up having a lot of fun.
7. Make plans to hang out intentionally.
At a certain point you will have to stop relying on bumping into each other, and actually take the big scary step of meeting up on purpose. It is the transition from work friends to actual friends or from “talking” to dating. It requires one person to step up and initiate making plans.
If you are apprehensive about being too direct, you could always start with a group activity as opposed to just the two of you. Have a few friends over for dinner at your house, or ask the person to tag along to a social event (please do not take someone out to a wedding on a first date). Slowly work your way to the one on one time.
8. Take advantage of technology and social media.
Phones have created a way to be in constant communication if we want to. Do not bombard the other person with text messages, calls, and DMs every waking moment of every single day. That being said, texting and social media are like accelerant to any relationship when you are respectful to the other person’s space. Do not try to play mind games with them.
9. Open up before expecting them to open up .
You have now become somewhat comfortable with each other. You are no longer just another acquaintance, but there still isn’t much depth in your interactions. The best way to break down that barrier is by being vulnerable, and opening up to give the other person the confidence to do so as well. Then it’s just a matter of being patient. When they feel safe, and when the opportunity comes up, they will open up to you.
10. Be dependable but not overbearing.
Finally, getting to know someone is all about moving from one level of trust to another with someone. Being there for someone when they need you will help them to open their lives up to you more. You want them to know that you can be counted on to listen when they want to talk, to give advice, to talk them off the edge, to keep their stories, to chip in financially if they really need it.
But you do not want to wear people down by constantly asking if there is something you can do, or crossing boundaries when they haven’t asked for your help. Always be careful not to be taken advantage of by also drawing boundaries on how how much you are willing to step in early on in the relationship.
As you try to make new friends, get a date, or create depth in relationships you already have, I wish you all the best, and I hope you remember to be patient with other people. Do not be over eager and push for things to happen within your own timeline. Also remember that it’s not always meant to be. We all have biases that sometimes subconsciously affect how we relate to other people, and can sometimes prevent us from ever getting past surface level interactions with them. Other people have them too, and no matter how hard you try, they just won’t let you in and that is okay.