At its simplest, a lifechat is the act of creating a safe, curiosity-filled space to intentionally ask thoughtful questions, to listen intently to the responses, and to share your truth in return. Lifechats happen with strangers never to be seen again, old friends you can’t get rid of even if you tried, and everyone in between. The medium doesn’t matter—the approach is all that does. The hope is one of connection that reminds us of who we are, that challenges us to think differently, and that leaves us better for doing both.
There’s no prescribed way to have a lifechat but there are some best practices that might help to keep in mind:
- Be thoughtful in the questions you ask. If you use any Lifechat starters, remember that those are to act as a mere starting point rather than the entire experience.
- Seek first to understand rather than be understood.
- Put away distractions and create true space in your life to connect in order to be present.
- Abide by emotional consent as much as possible.
- Listen, not to plan your reply, but to witness another person’s story.
- Keep in mind the idea of both stepping up to share and stepping out to give others the chance to do so. Stepping up doesn’t need to mean sharing—it could be asking a question. Stepping out can mean you nod in agreement rather than jump in.
It will be rare that you can do all of the above. You might be at a loud party where distractions are endless. You might be in a bad headspace operating at 60% of your usual self. You might be in a quiet coffee shop talking to a stranger trying to contain your excitement. It’s about being intentional in creating the space for true connection in the ways that you can. Lifechats might be brief lasting only a few precious minutes as you order coffee or interact with someone on the subway. They might last hours into the night until the restaurant closes and you find yourself wandering around in the surrounding neighborhood as night turns to day. They might catch you by surprise in places you never considered finding connection. They might be planned with a date, time, and old friend to create space with. They might leave you questioning things you don’t want to face and they might leave you with tantalizing ideas you can’t stop turning over in your mind. They might leave you with a new friend or a missed connection.
I hope they leave you better for having them no matter what.