The Opening Principle says, “People open to open people.”
In other words, when one person opens to another, the other usually responds by opening up in return.
A couple weeks ago, I went camping with some friends and two of my brothers. The second evening out, one particular friend of mine stayed up with one of my brothers and I until 4:30 am. We chatted about life and love and feelings no one else has.
In the middle of it all, I realized the Opening Principle in full form. My brother and I are pretty close. This particular friend and I are also pretty close. But still, as I opened up, they opened up. And as they opened up, I opened up.
The responses were so predictable they were almost mechanical. Except they weren’t… because they were totally genuine.
People love connection
- People love talking about their relationship problems. People love talking about their spiritual doubts and struggles. People love talking about their fears to help process them.
- And on the flip side, people love sharing about their plans and dreams, their hobbies and projects, and their kids and new friends they’re making.
Overall, people love having deep conversations. In fact, we crave them. But most of the time, we stay in our little cocoons simply because we fear vulnerability more than we crave connection.
But people want safety first
When someone else gets vulnerable first, when someone else exposes a sensitive spot first, we feel safer. It’s as though they’ve given us blackmail material, so we know they can’t turn on us. So we open up.
Now let’s reverse that. Let’s say we’re the ones opening up first. Let’s say we’re the ones sharing the blackmail material first. Let’s say we jump first… without the safety net.
Yeah, that’s how to help people open up. Because people open to open people.
(1) Think of something you probably don’t want to share. Here’s how I find mine: I just ask, What am I struggling with right now? Then I ask, What am I struggling with that I don’t want anyone to know about? That’s what you should share.
(2) So find someone, get ‘em in a one on one conversation, and share what you don’t want to share. Your friends might not open up right then (they might be a little surprised at your openness), but as time goes on, that opening will make it easier and easier for them to open back up to you.