How To Get People To Open Up - Fridays with Ferne: Episode #45

Anyone who’s ever met me knows that I ask a lot of questions. This time, Ferne turns the tables on me. What is my secret? How do I get people to open up? How do I get people to share what they are really feeling and thinking? The answer is in the question.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. You have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, and today is Fridays with Ferne, and I have my daughter here today with me to have a chat. Her name is Ferne. Welcome.

[00:00:24] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello! Thank you for having me, as usual. [Chuckles]

[00:00:28] Kim Ades: So I'm excited to be talking to you today. What do you have on your mind? What do you want to discuss?

[00:00:34] Ferne Kotlyar: All right. So today I'm going to bring up a case that's very personal, and it actually happened when we were on vacation. So this case is all about you, mom.

[00:00:46] Kim Ades: All about me, okay.

[00:00:48] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] So we were on vacation and there was a man who showed us to our room. We were in Mexico somewhere and, you know, he showed us to our room, showed us the amenities, gave us a little tour. And within, I swear it was 10 minutes of us knowing him, you got him to open up and tell us his entire life story about how his son was, I think, in another country, and he had to be here to make money and he couldn't see a son who got into an accident. And he had a whole long sob story.

Unfortunately don't remember all of the details, but I do remember at some point you even got him to tear up a little bit and cry. And I guess my question is, how do you get people to do that? How do you get people to open up like that and just tell you everything within the first 10 minutes of knowing them?

[00:01:42] Kim Ades: So first of all, I didn't get him to cry, I didn't get him to tear up, I didn't get him to do anything. What I did was I showed interest. And I think that in the world, a lot of people don't show interest or perhaps they're interested and don't know how to show interest.

And so for me, I am just naturally interested. I want to hear people's stories. I want to know the background. I'm interested in the details. I like to know the nitty gritty. And it's just part of my nature and it's part of what makes me a very effective coach, is understanding how a person is wired, how they make the decisions they make. But even before that, just understanding what happened, what took place.

[00:02:37] Ferne Kotlyar: And how do you show interest?

[00:02:40] Kim Ades: I simply ask questions. I start with "tell me about you. Do you live here? How long have you been here? Where did you grow up? Do you have a family?" And it takes me down the road. But it's not like these questions are preplanned in my brain. That's not how it goes. What happens is I just have a natural instinct to ask questions, but I have a natural curiosity to understand the full picture of a human being. And--

[00:03:11] Ferne Kotlyar: Sorry, go for it.

[00:03:12] Kim Ades: And when I look for the full picture, people are invited to share and simply that invitation causes emotion. Because they're so busy working, nobody's looking at them, nobody's asking, nobody's inquiring, nobody's showing any care or concern or compassion on any level. When somebody stops and say, "hold on a minute, I just want to focus on you for a minute", that action alone creates emotion.

[00:03:44] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely.

[00:03:45] Kim Ades: So it's not that my desire is "oh, you see that guy? I'm gonna get him to open up in 10 minutes". That's not how it goes. It's I'm simply interested in learning about people, because when I learn about others, my life gets enriched. It's the same way as when I coach people and I learn their stories intimately, they contribute to my life. I learn, I grow, I walk a path with them, I connect with them deeply and that connection makes my life more interesting, and I'm growing beside them.

[00:04:26] Ferne Kotlyar: And so in a non-coaching setting, do you ever feel like there's a line? Like, what's too personal to ask? Because I know that a lot of people, while they're curious, don't feel comfortable asking because they don't want to push or they don't want to pry. So for you, how do you deal with that line?

[00:04:43] Kim Ades: I don't think there's a line. And I think, you know, the moment that you ask the question, "is there a line that you should not cross?" What you're doing is you're making an assumption about the person on the other side of the line saying they can't handle it.

[00:04:58] Ferne Kotlyar: Or they don't want to share with you.

[00:05:00] Kim Ades: They might not, but that's up to them to decide. And so I can ask all the questions I want and the other person on the other side can say, "I don't want to discuss that".

[00:05:10] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, but what if they feel uncomfortable telling you?

[00:05:13] Kim Ades: That's okay. I'm willing to take the risk because 9.8 times out of 10, the person is grateful that someone cares enough to ask, that someone shows an interest, because most of the time we're so busy, like, on our phones, you know? Our heads are down, our heads are focused on our own responsibilities, our own workload, our own relationships. We don't even look up!

[00:05:46] Ferne Kotlyar: So you don't think that there are any questions that are inappropriate to ask?

[00:05:49] Kim Ades: No, I really don't.

[00:05:51] Ferne Kotlyar: At all?

[00:05:53] Kim Ades: No. As long as you're doing it respectfully, you know? It's important to be polite. It's important to be kind. But I think you can ask the questions.

[00:06:08] Ferne Kotlyar: And in terms of asking questions, do you find that there's a point in your relationship in which you can ask? Or you can ask a random person on the street anything you want type of thing? Or do you have to build up to it?

[00:06:19] Kim Ades: You probably have to build up to it. You can't go, "Hey, you across the street, how's your marriage going?"

[00:06:27] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]

[00:06:27] Kim Ades: You probably can't do that. But you can go to the person across the street and say, "wow, I really, really love those shoes you're wearing. Where did you get them from? Man, my husband would love it if I wore those shoes". And then the other person would say, "oh, really? My husband hates them".

And then I might say, "oh, how long have you been married?" And then she might say, "oh, I've been married for two years". "What kind of shoes does your husband like you to wear?" and you see how the conversation evolves. And it allows me down a path that helps me to understand the relationship.

[00:07:08] Ferne Kotlyar: And do you find that there's-- like, you want to know about everybody or there are some people that you just...?

[00:07:14] Kim Ades: Well, it's impossible for me to want to know about everybody, right? There are too many people for me to know about in the world. But there are definitely some people that I identify and I say, "I want to know that person. I want that person in my life a little bit closer. I want to have a relationship with that person". That has happened to me many, many, many times.

I remember being at an event and we were in a synagogue, it was like a bar mitzvah or something like that, and the rabbi was there and he was interesting to me. And in the back of my mind I thought to myself, "I want to get to know that guy. I would love to coach that guy. That's a guy that I want to understand a little bit better". And it was very interesting because shortly thereafter, like within a few months, someone reached out to me from the synagogue saying, "can you coach this rabbi?"

[00:08:07] Ferne Kotlyar: Interesting.

[00:08:08] Kim Ades: It's not unusual for me to find someone and kind of look at them and go, "Hmm, that person's interesting..."

[00:08:15] Ferne Kotlyar: I know, every week...

[00:08:16] Kim Ades: "That person's intriguing to me. I want to get to know them better".

[00:08:19] Ferne Kotlyar: Every week you come home with a new best friend.

[00:08:23] Kim Ades: Yes, every week I come home with someone that I'm interested in, someone that I want to learn more about, someone that intrigues me, someone that walks a certain path with me, and that is what enriches my life at the end of the day, all the people and all the relationships and all the stories and all the lessons I get to learn.

[00:08:47] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, absolutely. And tell me something, do you find that people are just as curious about you as you are with them?

[00:08:53] Kim Ades: No [laughs] not at all. Not at all.

[00:08:57] Ferne Kotlyar: And do you ever feel like you wished they asked more questions? You wished they paid more attention? Gave me more interest? And how do you deal with that feeling? Like, let's say you are somebody-- and I know you are, but let's say somebody else who's listening to this is a very curious person and loves to ask questions, but you know, sometimes it's nice to get some questions back. How do you deal with that feeling of...

[00:09:24] Kim Ades: It's actually a very interesting question, because I think that generally in my life, there's a bit of an imbalance between my level of interest and engagement versus other people. However, it's up to me to share and it's up to me to take responsibility for how I feel about the exchange, and the moment that I feel bad that someone is not interested or asking me questions or showing curiosity or whatever it is, is the moment that I abdicate responsibility.

It's the moment that I "say you're responsible for the way that I feel, and because you're not doing X, Y, and Z, I'm entitled to feel bad". That's the moment that I have given up my role in my own happiness. And so that's not a good plan. So if I want to become more intimate with someone, if I want someone to know more about me, it's up to me to share. And I don't always share. I don't. It's just not always a thing I do. I can do more of that if I want people to know more about me.

[00:10:33] Ferne Kotlyar: Is there something you want people to know? If you could share now, now that I'm asking. [Chuckles]

[00:10:38] Kim Ades: There's so much I want people to know. I want people to know that I walk 10,000 steps a day every day, and that's fairly new for me, but I'm super proud of it. I want people to know that I have a song in my head 24 hours.

[00:10:50] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] Which one is it now?

[00:10:53] Kim Ades: This morning someone asked us for The Morning Song, you know? [Hums song] That's the song that's in my head now.

[00:11:02] Ferne Kotlyar: I know that one.

[00:11:02] Kim Ades: [Laughs] You know that one?

[00:11:05] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] A little too well.

[00:11:06] Kim Ades: Yeah. I want people to know that I journal every day. I don't just tell people to journal, I actually do it every day.

[00:11:13] Ferne Kotlyar: That's important.

[00:11:14] Kim Ades: I want people to know that generally speaking, I'm a pretty cheerful, happy person and I'm happy with the way things are. And I want people to know that I think about things a lot and I often think that... I think about when everybody agrees with something, I wonder if it's correct, and I wonder if there's a different way of looking at things. And I like to challenge conventional thought. That's the way I'm wired.

[00:11:43] Ferne Kotlyar: And what is your biggest challenge of conventional thought?

[00:11:46] Kim Ades: What is my biggest challenge of conventional thought? Oh, I have lots of them. [Laughs] Lots of them. I'll give you one as an example. There's a very famous speaker. His name is Simon Sinek and he did a Ted Talk.

[00:12:00] Ferne Kotlyar: Oh yeah.

[00:12:00] Kim Ades: And his Ted Talk was called "Start With Why", right? Ask yourself, you know, what's my "why" in this world, what's my reason. And I think it's an important question, I think is very fascinating, but I don't think it's the most important question. Because your why and my why and his why and her why, they're pretty much all the same. The reason I want anything in this world is because I think it's going to make me feel better, I think it's gonna give me a certain feeling, right?

Why do I want a promotion? 'Cause I think it's going to make me feel better. Why do I want to be married? 'Cause I think it's going to make me feel better. Why do I want to live in a nicer house? 'Cause I think it's gonna make me feel better. So the "why" is essentially the same. For me, the more important question is, what's your "why not"?

What's stopping you, from going for what you want? What's stopping you from living the life of your dreams? What's stopping you from letting go of regret? What's stopping you from being happy? What's stopping you from being in a relationship?

[00:13:04] Ferne Kotlyar: Interesting.

[00:13:05] Kim Ades: Right? So what's your "why not"? That's the more important question, and for everybody it's a little different.

[00:13:11] Ferne Kotlyar: You don't find that they're similar? The "why not's".

[00:13:16] Kim Ades: I think they all come from beliefs, they're born from beliefs, but my beliefs and your beliefs and his beliefs and her beliefs can be different.

[00:13:24] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, fair enough.

[00:13:26] Kim Ades: But that's just an example. But yeah, I mean, I'm happy to share anything anybody wants to know.

[00:13:32] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. So while you always promote people telling you their stories, also feel free to ask.

[00:13:39] Kim Ades: There you go. Interesting conversation, right?

[00:13:42] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely.

[00:13:44] Kim Ades: Thank you guys for tuning in, for listening, for sharing the time with Ferne and me. We would love to hear from you. Please reach out to us with anything you want to discuss, any questions you have. My email address is Ferne, how do people reach you?

[00:14:02] Ferne Kotlyar: My email address is

[00:14:07] Kim Ades: We will see you next time, thank you for tuning in. Please like, please share, and please reach out. Have a great week!

[00:14:14] Ferne Kotlyar: Bye!

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