In today’s busy world, it can be challenging to have meaningful conversations. We lead productive lives and we often find ourselves running between meetings, checking our email, our phones, and our other devices to receive and take in as much information as possible. “Hi, how are you?” passes for conversation, but what would need to happen to make a shift and make an actual connection? What would you ask?

I spent time this fall in search of meaningful conversations. In addition to attending many purposeful events, I hosted a dinner for the Healthy Democracy Coalition so that people on both sides of the political aisle could break bread together and hone their skills on civil discourse. I hosted an On the Table conversation as part of an effort to strengthen communities in the region, where we posed questions with our neighbors such as how do we make our community a better place to live, work and play? And how can we individually and collectively help each other and our community? Today, in a book group, we partnered up to ask each other what about us was not apparent just by looking at us. In my experience, people are craving connection in a world where we are more technologically connected and increasingly disconnected in actuality.

The search for meaningful conversations is what originally led me to my work as a coach. In a coaching relationship, the client is the expert on his/her own life. The role of the coach is to increase the clarity and awareness in the client so that they can make the desired change that they are seeking. Coaching requires active listening and authentic curiosity. A successful coach authentically builds trust so that the coachee feels safe experimenting with and incorporating new behaviors based on what is revealed during your conversations.

One of the key strategies in my coaching sessions is to uncover your core values and determine what is important to you. Who has influenced you? What are some of the pivotal experiences that have shaped your beliefs? What do you care about and why? Ultimately, what will be different in this world because you have lived in it? Powerful questions often lead to thoughtful responses and, as a result, create a deeper and more meaningful connection. If meaningful connections are what you are after, dialogue with purpose. Take a risk and ask the questions that get beneath the surface and to the heart of the matter. Listen to understand and be willing to share your story. Your passion and purpose can lead you to others who also live with passion and purpose, and your life will be richer for connecting.