A Different Kind of Dinner

Young people at a breakfast table
Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

I love stories like the one I’m about to share with you.  I heard it from someone who read an advance copy of my book, Ask: How to Relate to Anyone (publication date: October 1, 2020).

A dinner date

My reader and his wife are good friends with another couple.  They often go out to dinner together and have been doing so for a number of years.

The two men, while friends, have divergent political views.  One is a Republican and a strong supporter of the past administration.  The other is a Democrat, strongly opposed to the former President.

In the past, they avoided politics, but sometimes the conversation strayed into that area, creating friction.

The Ask approach

After reading Ask, my reader adopted a different approach, which he thought about carefully prior to the next dinner date.   Both he and his wife would only ask questions.  The questions would reflect a sincere effort to learn more about them.  They would not have any agenda, other than eliciting information.

They would make no effort to convey any information.

A transformational difference

The difference was “transformational.”  The other couple was eager to respond to soft, open-ended questions.  When the subject of politics arose, my reader made no effort to explain, persuade or justify his views.  Instead, he asked for further clarification and made a genuine effort to understand the (very different) views of the other couple.

He told me the entire experience was “surreal.”  At the end of the dinner, the other couple told them they rarely had such a “wonderful time.”  The man said he felt my reader was one of the few people he could discuss politics with, and complimented him for his understanding.

My reader told me something else quite remarkable happened.  Although he felt he knew the other couple well before this dinner, he said he learned things about them that gave him a new appreciation for their values, character and family life.

Why Ask is so effective

This experience illustrates why my goal in writing Ask may not be so elusive.  I want help everyone improve their relationships.  Implementing the  research-based lessons in Ask will do that.

When you cease efforts to persuade, abandon your agenda and genuinely focus on others, you do more than empower them to talk.  You show you care about them as people, and not just as a conduit for your views.

Doing so isn’t entirely selfless.  You’ll be struck at how differently you’re perceived and how your relationships become deeper and more meaningful.

That’s the power of Ask.