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Clues (blog)

How to speed up the get-to-know-you process

Want to cozy up to someone quicker? You can.

Dan McAdams, Chair of the Psychology Department at Northwestern University and author of Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self says there are
three levels of intimacy. In a nutshell:

1. Traits (descriptors often found at start of a personal ad, words like: kind, smart, sexy, etc.)

2. Personal Concerns (provide contextual details that are missing from traits, like: roles, goals, skills, and values)

3. Identity (lies at the core of who we are. It’s our inner story)

Apparently, getting to know someone takes time; and lots of it.

Luckily Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has developed a way to go from Level 1 to Level 2 in about an hour. Fast Friends, also referred to as The Sharing Game is like a grown up version of 20 questions, except there are 36 of them and you can't answer with a simple yes or no.

Many of the questions come across as personal trivia. For example: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

Even though Aron created the questions and tested his theory of deeper knowledge with a small-talk questionnaire to be sure it was the line of questioning that allowed people to become closer, he says not to go too fast.

The best way to get to know someone is gradually -- sprinkling a question here and there and probing more deeply as time rolls by.And getting from Level 2 to Level 3 takes a little more persistence.