Having lived on the east coast for 22 years before moving to Hawai`i, I still maintain a lot of distant friendships. I continue to cultivate most of these relationships through bi-monthly-or-so phone calls.
Being a huge proponent of Tim Ferriss’s GTP (Getting to the Point) Philosophy , I’m experimenting with a different communication model for these calls.
Instead of an unfocused "gimme a few highlights of your life with extremely little depth" model, I recently started asking my friends to give me a specific rundown of the last 24 hours of their life. I then ask 2-3 focused questions based on the information they give me.
I believe it’s effectively allowed me to trim the fat from these conversations, understand what’s truly going on in their daily lives, and leave them with something meaningful at the end.
A typical rundown might include "I got to work at 8am, answered emails until 9, had a mind-numbing meeting until 11, went to Neato Burrito for lunch, ordered a mega-size #1 with guacamole, etc."
And you may think this isn’t GTP at all! But you’re missing the P .
Listen for pieces that match with things you’re going through, lessons you’ve learned lately, recent insights you’ve gained. And ask 2-3 questions afterward about what you just heard.
In the situation above, I’d ask how many emails they have waiting for them on a typical morning & why the heck that’s what they did for the first hour of their day!
I’d then explain how I’ve learned to accomplish more by focusing on finishing my primary to-do for the day before I ever read a single email, then batch process all emails twice a day.
Be on the listen for things to pray for, and always try to leave them with a life-improving idea to think about.
If my P oint is understanding what’s truly going on in my friends’ lives & continuing to influence them positively, I believe this is an effective model. There are certainly other ways to GTP, but the thrust is to keep calls focused & fat free.
The jury’s still out, but early results favor the conclusion that more can be accomplished in most 10 minute GTP calls than the typical 30-minute "so what’s up" model.
Note: My friends have come to expect atypical experiences with me, so most are willing to play along with experiments like this. If you try this, results may vary!