The husband of a close friend never asks anything about my life. No matter when I have contact with him—on the street, at a dinner, if he answers the phone—he neglects to ask things like: ‘How are your kids? How’s your business? How’s your new grandson?’ As a matter of fact, he never even congratulated me when he heard my grandson was born. I guess he leaves that up to my friend, his wife.
It’s not as if this man discriminates against me. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t ask anyone questions that show he has even a passing concern about them or their families. I’m not asking him to fall all over me and act obsequiously. But I think it would be nice if he faked a tiny bit of interest.
I, on the other hand, ask people questions about themselves and their lives all the time. It’s in my journalistic blood. Besides, knowing about people makes them more interesting to me. It’s fine to talk about current events, new movies and restaurants, but going behind the scenes of a person’s life makes her more alive, gives her more dimension.
If others don’t want to answer my questions, they can tell me to shut up. They rarely do. As a matter of fact, people often tell me they never reveal so much to others as they reveal to me. I think it’s because I make them feel comfortable when I talk to them. Showing people you care about what they’re doing also makes them feel good. Doesn’t it give us all a little pleasure when we can share positive things about our families, our accomplishments and ourselves?
I have observed, however, that men are more likely to avoid asking personal questions because a.) They’re generally not psychological beings b.) What they’re doing and feeling generally takes priority over what you’re doing and c.) They tend to be wrapped up in their own little worlds. But I always prefer the ones who do.