Volunteers are an essential part of the Future Possibilities for Kids family. They bring in a diverse range of experience, amazing passion and allow us to reach hundreds of Kids in our programs.
When you volunteer, it is important that the experience is meaningful for you and that you gain something from it – a new skill, a new connection, a sense of fulfillment. Last month, we were fortunate to have Stuart Knight, internationally known leadership and motivational speaker presenting to our volunteers about powerful conversations at our “Laugh & Learn” – and there was plenty for all of us to learn.
When we communicate, we often limit those conversations from becoming deeply meaningful and helping us to strongly connect with other people. We hold back. We consider certain topics taboo. We aren’t really paying attention. We don’t ask enough strong questions. Most commonly, we just aren’t really listening. Moving from having mediocre conversations to having ones that break down walls and create deep connections takes practice and skill – the good news is that it is a skill that anyone can learn. Here are some of the takeaways from the session:
Ask meaningful questions – Move away from only talking about the weather, or asking someone what they do. There are plenty of other questions which will spice up the conversation. How about “what was the most meaningful experience you have had in the last year?” or “what do you think is your reason for being on the planet?” It might feel unfamiliar at first, but you can bet that the conversation will be more interesting than whether or not you need an umbrella tomorrow.
Peel the onion – If you’re asking great questions and listening well, the other person is likely giving you opportunities to learn more about them. Don’t change paths and start a new stream of conversation. Instead, continue to ask great questions on the answer. When you keep doing this, you will really get to the core of who they are.
Be the most interesting conversation that person will have that day – Through a powerful conversation, by getting someone to think deeply, by encouraging them to speak about what is important to them, and by really listening to them, you will likely stand out as a highlight of that person’s day.
Be real – Of course, all of this only makes sense if your intentions are genuine and you really care about learning more about other people.
Powerful conversations lead to powerful connections.
We are so lucky to have friends like Stuart who come to enhance the experience of our volunteers, inspiring them and helping them to build new skills.