Written by : Gretchen Rubin

12 Ways to Show More Interest in the Lives of Others

Here’s what to ask about a friend’s big, life-changing trip.

African American man showing thumb up, telling story to interested attentive friends, sitting, drinking coffee in cafe together, smiling multiethnic friends discussing, talking, chatting

Here's what to ask about a friend’s big, life-changing trip.

One of my happiness resolutions this year is to make more of an effort to understand and share in the interests of my friends and family. When people get along harmoniously—whether at home or in the workplace—they make a point of showing curiosity about each other’s interests and experiences.

What kind of interests? Well, one area where this issue often arises is when someone goes on an epic, life-changing adventure in a faraway place—only to feel let down when no one seems very interested in what they saw, thought or experienced.

Part of being a good friend (or colleague or family member) is to show an interest, but this can be challenging. People are usually dying to talk about their trip, but often find it difficult to communicate their experiences or thoughts in a way that’s interesting to the folks who didn’t leave home.

So, what questions can you ask to help a newly returned traveler talk about his or her trip in a way that’s interesting to you and also satisfying to them? (If you need ideas for questions, I’ve listed 12 below to help get the conversation going.) The point, of course, is not to fake an interest, but rather to find a way to be sincerely interested.

And travelers, when you come home, what questions are you dying to answer? What do you wish more people would show an interest in?

Because I’m not much of a traveler myself, I know that sometimes I haven’t shown as much interest in people’s travels as I could have. I plan to do better.

HERE ARE 12 WAYS TO BREAK THE ICE                     

1. What was the best moment of the entire trip?

2. What are two interesting things about China (or wherever) that the average person doesn’t know?

3. Tell me about one person you met.

4. Now that you’ve been there yourself, when you think of China, what’s the first image that comes into your head?

5. Did anything go wrong that seems funny now?

6. What little, ordinary thing did you miss from your usual routine?

7. What did you learn about yourself?

8. Where are two other places you’d like to go?

9. Did you take photos? Show me a photo of one of the best experiences you had.

10. What was the biggest misconception you had about China before you saw it for yourself?

11. What advice would you give to someone else who’s thinking of going to China?

12. What made you choose China as your destination when you were planning your trip?

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