Change your words. Change your world.

How To Genuinely Deepen Relationships With The People You Care About

Kevin Boyle is a Speaker, a Coach, and Exactly What to Say Certified Guide. He recently hosted an EWTS Critical Conversations Webinar explaining how to draw on the Exactly What to Say work to deepen the relationships that matter.

Kevin showed participants how to identify Critical Conversations, use curiosity to build empathy and relatability, and understand exactly why it is that people chose to do things.

Drawing from knowledge of the Exactly What to Say book, he also worked with the audience to demonstrate how best to use simple phrases and questions to change perspectives and influence people.

This blog will provide a summary of the best bits of his Critical Conversations Webinar.

The Framework

The Critical Conversations webinars are designed by our Guides to open your mind to the different approaches you could use during the moments that matter. Participants take away meaningful points to use in the future to help make improvements to communication techniques. 

Imagine if you knew how to move away from robotic scripts and be more genuine, how could that improve your sales? 

But as well as improving your business conversation the Magic Words and phrases contained in the book can be used as a framework to deepen every relationship in your life. You can use them to start to create more layers.

It all begins with clear communication, and starting a conversation can make things happen, this blog will help you make the most out of every single one.

The 4 Cornerstones of Critical Conversations

There are 4 Cornerstones of Critical Conversations and these cornerstones are the critical ingredients needed to graduate into conversational excellence. 

The 4 cornerstones are:

  1. The worst time to think about what you are saying is when you are saying it
  2. Curiosity is the fuel for great conversations.
  3. People only do things for their reasons, not yours.
  4. The person asking the questions controls the conversation.

But how can these cornerstones be used to deepen relationships?

Cornerstone 1: The Worst Time To Think About What You Are Saying Is When You Are Saying It

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are winging a conversation? It can happen at any time, and it’s super easy to get into the habit of winging them the more you do it.

Dependent on your job, it might even mean that you have to wing it, that was certainly the case for Kevin during his years as a stand-up comedian.

As a stand-up, you should never go out on stage overly prepared. Winging it was not only encouraged but viewed as an essential skill in a comedian’s world! 

But not everyone is an improv comedian. How often do you wing the high-stakes conversations? 

Is it really worth the risk? 

Break the habit and get yourself more prepared try out the following:

  • Identify a Critical Conversation and write it down
  • Identify any areas that you can change
  • Make sure you add some intentionality 
  • Understand where your focus should be

Cornerstone 2: Curiosity Is The Fuel For Great Conversations

Did you know that the more certainty you bring into a conversation, the more uncertainty you create? Your goal should be mutual understanding, but how do you do this?

It’s down to the curiosity that you show up with. Curiosity is a superpower.

Remain curious for just long enough and you’ll find yourself in a position of empathy. 

This is a really powerful place to land in because it shows that you have explored the other person’s reality and reached an understanding of where they are and what they need.

Creating empathetic relationships is not just important on a professional level, it’s essential on a personal level too. The two worlds often blend and any working parent knows how difficult it can be to create a healthy work-life balance. 

During the webinar, Kevin shared how he had inadvertently double-booked a Thanksgiving luncheon, one with his daughter at her school at 11 am, and the other with his work at 12. 

Both were super important but for very different reasons and because of this, in the morning he started panicking thinking about how he was going to be present at both.

But this is where intentionality becomes vital. He stopped, calmed his thinking, and figured out how to be intentional at both events. Of course, he could have canceled on his daughter, but what parent wants to let down their child? 

He decided not to eat with his daughter so he could eat later with his colleagues, but he made sure to focus on conversation with his daughter instead. 

Kevin sat and asked as many questions as he could think of and through his curiosity he learned even more about her at the moment. His mom took a candid photo of the two of them on that day and it serves to him as a reminder of just how important it is to spend time deepening important relationships. 

Is there a situation in your past that would have benefitted from more curiosity?

Cornerstone 3: People Only Do Things For Their Reasons, Not Yours

Instead of rushing in to offer advice you need to understand the other person’s reasons.

Just how can you collect their truths to add empathy?

Before any recommendations can be offered you need to be able to say: ‘Because of the fact that you said ABC, I can recommend XYZ.’

Doing this activates the “show me that you know me” button in the other person’s mind. 

This is a huge subconscious trigger and gets you to a place of shared trust.

Cornerstone 4: The Person Asking The Questions Controls The Conversation

Is there a conversation that you can remember being genuinely curious, engaged, and asking the right questions? 

How productive and satisfying was it? Just imagine feeling like that after every single encounter.

When you ask the right questions, conversations can flow more freely and enter into areas that you wouldn’t necessarily have expected them to land. 

Questions deepen a conversation and provide more useful information. This useful information is integral to taking action and moving forward.

Who are the people that you need to be asking more questions of?

The Importance of Critical Ingredients

Why is asking questions so important?

Questions start
Conversations, which build
Relationships, which create
Opportunities, which result in 

Follow these critical ingredients, and you will ensure you are on the same page as the person you are speaking to. 

You’ve shown them that you understand where they’re coming from, hitting the show me that you know me button, arriving at a place of genuine empathy.

And it’s empathy that is the key to deepening relationships.

Find that and you might just stay on the right track to engage in even more meaningful conversations.

Putting It Into Practice

For the 4 cornerstones to work to their fullest potential it will require you to do the work before the work. 

Preparation is so often the key to success. Below are some things that you should practice to help elevate your conversational skills.

  • Add intentional forward-thinking to your daily routine
  • Read, watch, and listen to this framework so that it becomes muscle memory
  • Re-visit and re-set your mindset
  • View this as a work in progress
  • Be open with yourself and others about why you are trying to improve your communication
  • Celebrate your victories and take note of where you fall short – every outcome is fuel to keep working

Practical Use Of Magic Words & Phrases

The following are magic words and phrases that you could use to deepen relationships and gain in-depth perspective.

How Important Is It?

This is perfect for creating boundaries. You can manage expectations and learn exactly what the other person’s priorities are.

Could It Be Possible

You can use this phrase to challenge someone without aggression. Use it the next time that you need to make a direct point. 

How Would You Feel If…

Use this when talking about future conditional scenarios.

Just Imagine

Use this one to create a future conditional scenario.

Help Me Understand

Perfect when you find yourself in a place of conflict. It puts you in a better position to converse without conflict.

Would It Help If?

Next time you are in a conflicting situation try to use this pre-phrase

If I Can, Will You…?

Have a compromise ready and lay it out, this can often diffuse a situation or even instigate more action.

Just Out Of Curiosity

Another softer approach without being aggressive when you’re trying to understand someone.

Critical Conversation Webinars run weekly every Friday at 2 pm EST. Each week a different Certified Guide shares their expertise to improve those essential conversations in your life. You can sign up to hear more about the series here

Kevin Boyle

Kevin Boyle

Kevin Boyle is a speaker/coach, business consultant, real estate advisor, and Exactly What to Say® Certified Guide. With a passion for transformative communication, Kevin harnesses the power of Exactly What to Say® and other techniques to enhance personal, professional, team, and company-wide interactions.

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