Inspiration in Practice
It’s simple and easy to apply inspiration in your conversations.
When you want to inspire your partner, be deliberate to share something that might inspire them to share their curiosity, their thoughts, or their story.
These are not the only three ways to inspire your partner—anything that encourages your partner to share is an inspiration. But these three ways are effective and easy to learn, so I recommend you focus on them while you’re practicing inspiration.
Let’s look at each in turn:
Inspire Them To Share Their Curiosity
To inspire your partner to share their curiosity, share something they want to know more about. Use your knowledge of the other person to guide you as you craft great inspirations.
For instance, I’m a big fan of the singer Hayley Westenra. If you tell me that you saw her in concert, you will certainly inspire my curiosity—I’ll want to know what songs she sang, how long you’ve been a fan, and what you thought of the concert. But mention the concert to someone who is not a fan, and you might just get a blank stare.
Fortunately, your inspirations don’t have to be perfectly matched to the other person. Just make an honest effort to think about what the other person would be interested in, and you will usually end up ok.
Inspire Them To Share Their Thoughts
When you share your thoughts, it encourages your partner to share their own. Thoughts can be your opinions, your speculations, or a topic that you’re curious about.
Be careful about this, though. If you sound like you’re lecturing when you share your thoughts, or you belittle people who disagree with you, your partner will not feel comfortable to share their own thoughts. Do your best to share your thoughts in a way that welcomes discussion and different opinions.
If you have trusted friends or family members, ask them for honest feedback on how well you welcome the thoughts and opinions of others. It’s possible that you feel very open to the opinions of others, but you are unconsciously doing something that causes others to feel uncomfortable. When you ask family and friends to help you, it’s easy to find and fix these unconscious mistakes.
Inspire Them To Share Their Story
By story, I mean the story of their life: the experiences that made them the person they are. This can be big things like marriage and graduation, or little things like a crazy road trip that they did with their friends in high school. These experiences made your partner who they are, and when they share their experiences with you you will get to know them much better.
The best way to inspire your partner to share their story is to share your own story. Tell them about your years in high school, and they will probably answer with a story from their school days. Tell them about your trip to Europe, and they will probably regale with the story of their visit to Mexico. Tell them about a rough time you went through last year, and they might share some of their own struggles with you.
Sharing your story doesn’t have to mean talking about specific events. You can talk about how much you’ve always loved art, or talk about how a particular fear has always been a struggle for you. The important thing about sharing your story is that you’re sharing something that’s real and that helps your partner know you better.
In other words, talking about how your identity as a Trekkie has shaped you counts as sharing your story. Talking about why Captain Kirk could totally beat up Han Solo does not count as your story (because you’re not talking about you!)
Also, remember that the same rules for intimacy that we discussed previously apply here, too. If you just met someone, you probably shouldn’t share a really private part of your story. Give the relationship time to grow, and over time you can share more and more intimate parts of your story.
A Final Word On Inspiration
One more thing. Inspiration is powerful, but it’s not an exact science. You might share an opinion with your partner in hopes of inspiring them to share their thoughts, but they respond with curiosity—or a piece of their story. That’s totally okay. Your goal is to encourage your partner to share. What they choose to share is up to them.
Awesome. Now that you’ve been introduced to both invitation and inspiration, let’s take a look at how they work together.
Ready? Let’s do it!