This morning I watched a Ted Talk entitled “Falling in Love is the Easy Part” by Mandy Len Catron (Catron’s Ted Talk). She is known for writing an article in the New York Times a few years ago called “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” Catron’s Article. The article tells her story about her real life experience of trying a psychological experiment designed by Dr. Arthur Aron. The experiment hypothesizes that if two people take 90 minutes to ask each other 36 pre-designed questions, and then spend four minutes gazing into each other’s eyes, they are statistically more likely to fall in love. The questions were designed to increase in their personal nature as they couple works their way down the list. The list starts with questions like “ What would constitute a perfect day for you?” and “For what in your life are you most grateful?” leading to deeper questions like “When did you last cry in front of another person? And so on. Mandy Len Catron tried the experiment with an acquaintance and they indeed did fall in love (no spoiler on whether they are still together! I know you are wondering… watch the Ted Talk).
As coaches we are often asked “what makes a great question?” . My answer is that the question is only part of it. This experiment shows the powerful combination of intentionally setting aside time to BE with one another; asking questions with the intent to listen; being fully present; reflecting and provide honest, authentic answers; and holding a safe space for the other person when they are reflecting and responding. It then caps it off with an extended period of intensely connecting eye contact. Who among us wouldn’t be emotionally moved by this!
So here’s my Valentine’s Day Challenge to all of us. Commit to spending 90 minutes with someone you care about, set the intention of connecting with them, and then try your own asking and listening experiment. You can use your own questions, or borrow from the list Mandy Len Catron used from Aron’s experiment, “The 36 Questions that Lead to Love “.
Happy Valentine’s Day!