I am a huge Howard Stern fan. Howard Stern is considered by many as the King of Radio for good reasons. He has an uncanny ability to get his guests to open up about topics that they have never discussed publicly, which makes for a great radio show.
But, how does Howard Stern get his guests to talk about never been told before information on air? What's the secret?
In 2013, Stern told Katie Couric, "Because we're on the radio, and don't have an audience around us, we can slip into this sort of hypnotic kind of experience right where we really think we're alone...and I'm naturally curious."
If you ask me, Howard Stern mentioned one word that is a big reason why guests open up to him: Curiosity. His curiosity fuels his questions, which tend to be more interesting than standard interviewers.
You can use curiosity to your advantage to build better relationships with other people, by allowing them to open up to you. That said, here are two ways to get others to open up to you:
Expose your vulnerabilities.
Getting people to open up is not an easy task. But I've noticed people open up to me when I give them information about myself first that I didn't have to. It could be about previous startup failures or even financial issues I've had in the past.
By setting the tone that I'm trusting them with my information, I open up the possibilities of them doing the same for me. I give up some information I didn't need to do, in the hopes I get something in return. It's kind of like the political term Quid Pro Quo, without all the impeachment hearings. I do this for you; you do this for me. It's as simple as that.
For example, I'll openly tell others that I've mismanaged employees or that I had to back to get a full-time job because I couldn't make my startup work for me.
Here is how I say it:
"George, entrepreneurship is hard, man. I remember when I first became an entrepreneur and completely miscalculated my finances. I was broke within four months. I had to stop paying my condo mortgage, and I even stopped paying on a rental property that I couldn't get tenants for. It was hard for me to make payments, and I had to get a real job. It was hard. But I made it out. It took a long time for me to recover."
I don't ask for any information from him, but I throw it out there. Usually, they reciprocate and tell me stories of their own.
Hold the conversation in a quiet, secluded location.
As Stern said, the key to his guests opening up to him is that they're in a studio without an audience. It feels as if they are alone.
So, if you wanted to have a private conversation with someone and hopefully learn more about them, the location matters. Coffee places are great for regular business conversations, but if you wanted to get deeper insights into their life or how they work, find a quiet, secluded place where no one can eavesdrop. It has to be just you and them.
If I know it's going to be a private conversation, I'll make sure the conversation is in my office or I'll book a conference room at a co-working location.
Having more in-depth conversations is vital for anyone who wants to build a business and better relationships with their employees and customers. Be curious, expose your vulnerabilities, and have the conversation in a quiet place, and you'll find yourself having better conversations.