What does it take to connect with the people you care about?
I just got back from spending a few days with my parents. We played games together. We planned our day together. We met up with my cousins together. We ate together. We solved mysteries together (of course).
We were together a LOT.
Most of the time we enjoyed casual conversation and caught up on recent activities.
But every now and then, we would go deep - stories from growing up, formative experiences at first jobs, choices that changed everything, memories from grands and great-grands who I barely remember but who come to life with just one detail about their personality.
Little conversational gold mines that we seemed to stumble on.
Beyond interacting, we were really connecting.
As a mystery host and game designer, I have dedicated a significant portion of my life to studying and supporting these moments of connection; when friends, relatives, coworkers and strangers go beyond playing a game and actually meet one another more deeply.
These moments can be magic. And while they can't be predicted or controlled (nor should they be), I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to help the magic moments flow.
More of these in the coming days, but for now here are two of my favorites:
Say what you see
Baking, gingerbread house construction, jigsaw puzzles, or simply gazing out the window with a hot drink - these are casual shared activities that can prompt all sorts of observations.
Maybe it's a color or pattern you like. Maybe you admire someone's finesse or creativity. Maybe it sparks a memory of delights and disasters - shared or solo.
Simply talking about what you're doing can spark all kinds of connections because it helps ground you in where you are and who you're with.
It may feel a little silly to make small talk, but I think you have to start there in order to earn the big talk. Divulging your innermost thoughts, opinions and concerns requires a balance of sharing and listening. In order to open up to bigger things, that baseline trust must be built.
2. Get curious
Especially when we're very familiar with each other, it's easy to assume a tone or a meaning or point from someone's observation.
See if you can notice when this is happening. Instead of internalizing it, try making it a question: What makes you say that? Or, I wonder why that is? Is that something you would change if you could? Or there's always, Tell me more about that.
Curiosity invites connection. Especially when you really mean it.
To see how this plays out in the context of a murder mystery, why not hop on Zoom with me on Tuesday, December 26? I'm hosting my own virtual Christmas mystery party, and I would love to discover some magic moments with you.
Auntie Boddy has the details... oh at somysterio.us
My very best wishes and holiday cheers to you and your favorite people. 🥂