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Very few of us feel deeply known. We are created for deep connection on a soul or spiritual level, and this happens when we learn them… when we take time to put aside our agenda, our multitasking and fully pay attention.

Can you relate? How did you picture your life when you were younger? Are you enjoying the life and relationships you dreamed about and anticipated when you couldn’t wait to grow up? For most of us, the honest answer is “No, not really.” Or we may be able to say, “Well, some…kinda.”  But my guess is we would all raise our hands if asked, “Who wants a better relationship with their spouse, kid, family, friends, clients or coworkers?”

Good news:  Your relationships can get better! And, you can enjoy your life more! (Maybe not fairy tale quality, but meaningful and rewarding, we can do!)

One of my closest friends is Southern, and one day while talking about her new husband she said, “I just have to learn him.” I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant; it was a new term for this Northern gal. She explained, “This simply means learning about him: understanding his ways, preferences, styles of giving and showing love, his moods, when he is angry, hungry, discouraged, tired, excited… Learn him means really know him!”

I love this term!!

Learn Them perfectly captures the process of discovery essential to any thriving relationship. Learning people creates deeper connections. Isn’t it restful and gratifying when someone really knows you, gets you, and enjoys you? We find comfort in familiarity.

I have found when I actually use the skills I teach, my relationships get better too! Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things!

Learn Them is:

  • Studying them, observing nonverbal clues, going on a treasure hunt
  • Asking questions, and listening to their answers, seeking out stories
  • Watching and investigating… go all CSI on them and see what you can dig up

Reality Check: If your relationships are going to dramatically improve, you must be the one to take action.   Once you begin to use Skill#2: Learn Them with just one or two of the most important people in your life, you will see a positive shift in those relationships.

For example:

You may notice your wife is weary and a bit short tempered on Tuesdays: her busiest day of sales calls and potential rejections.  After dinner, you take charge, delegate dish duty, get the kids ready for bed and give her instructions to simply to relax and unwind.

Maybe your sister is distant and distracted on the phone.  Instead of making small talk, you boldly break the family “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule and blurt out, “Okay, what’s going on? I can tell something is bothering you.”  However, she avoids your question. Your sister doesn’t like discussing uncomfortable things and is very private.  Plus, she isn’t going to break the family rule.  You know this because you learned her, so instead of forcing the conversation, you drop it.  But the next day, you pop a card in the mail telling her she is in your thoughts and to call is needs or wants to talk.

In both scenarios, you practiced Learn Them to express your care and concern, which always improves relationships.

What about friendships? We comment and post on Facebook, Instagram, tweet and blog, but we still feel disconnected and lonely. We go out with friends to cocktail parties, ladies lunches or networking events and do the chit chat surface conversations. You know the shtick. We rarely get beyond the “How are you?” “Great? How are you?” “Doing good!” Dead silence, take a sip of your beer and scan the room for a diversion.

Instead of a boring two minute exchange of pleasantries, what if you had a few Learn Them questions tucked away to communicate your interest and take your interaction to the next level?

What if “How was your weekend?” “Great?” Progressed to… “Really? Why, what was great about your weekend?” followed by “How did you get into doing that?” As they share, you begin to learn them, improving your connection and taking the relationship to a deeper level.

What if we took the time to genuinely get to know the people in our life… to learn them and then engage based on what we learn? 

What is one person you can apply this skill with today?

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