A Curated Conversation (FREE PDF!)

Hello from a beach in Mexico! We booked this trip in the depths of winter and spent many freezing cold days looking forward to sunshine and hot sand. We’re thrilled to finally be here! We’re not really resort people (or sit-on-the-beach people, either) so we’ve booked an active trip: hiking, surfing, swimming, cycling, paddling, snorkelling… and a few food tours to even it all out! I’ll post photos from our trip to my highlighted stories on Instagram! (Have you followed me yet?)

One of the many joys of long-term partnership is getting to do really cool stuff with your partner. In my work with families and couples, however, I frequently observe this common stumbling block: “we’re so used to talking about logistics and scheduling that when we go on a date or a trip, I feel like we don’t have anything to talk about.” Sometimes it’s phrased as “we spend our whole lives together. What could we possibly talk about?” And sometimes I even hear, “I feel boring” or even, “my partner is boring.”

Ouch.

Listen. It’s normal for your long-term relationships (with your life partner, your business partner, your friends, your kids) to feel a little stale sometimes, especially if your focus has been elsewhere for a season. Take this feeling as an indication that it’s time to focus a bit more on your partner. One of my favourite ways to do this is through a curated conversation, where I develop a list of questions to prompt reflection and then work through as many as seem appropriate during a shared experience.

For example, every year on my husband’s birthday, I prepare a list of questions to get us talking abut his past year and his hopes for the next one. While we loiter over a relaxed, delicious dinner, we work our way through the questions and explore his answers. We both come to our anniversary celebrations with a list of questions, also! I love these conversations because I’m always surprised and delighted by his answers. The questions I ask are small gifts, and his thoughtful answers are big ones. I recommend this practice to my clients!!

Maybe you all have more spicy, less-life-coachy ways of keeping things fresh. Please! Share in the comments!! In the meantime, I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite questions. It’s totally free, and right here!

How to use this list:

  • 1.      Use it for yourself! These questions are all appropriate (and encouraged) for self-reflection!

  • 2.      Use it with a partner or close friend.

  • 3.      Use it with your older kids, or adapt some of the questions for younger kids.

If you’re using this list with others – or if you’ve created your own – here are some tips for a successful curated conversation:

  1. Keep your primary objective in mind: a curated conversation of this nature is intended to be connective and supportive. This is not a lecture, an interrogation, or entrapment!

  2. Ask questions that you’re genuinely curious about.

  3. Let the answers surprise you; don’t assume you know what’s coming.

  4. Ask follow-up questions to encourage a rich exploration. Some of my favourites are “so what does that look like?” or “please tell me more about that!”

  5. If you hear an answer that triggers resistance, anger, confusion, etc. in you, return to your primary objective. Either ask a different question or matter-of-factly note your emotion and let it pass before resuming the conversation.

  6. Pay attention to engagement cues. If you or your partner are beginning to lose engagement in the conversation, bookmark your spot and come back to it later!

If you try this, or if you have more questions to add to the list above, let me know!!

Kate Marlow