Wellness·3 min read

6 Questions to Ask to Build a Deeper Connection With Someone

Two women chatting on a couch. Search text reads: "Opening up, script"
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
December 13, 2023

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Have you known someone for years, but still feel like you barely know them? It can happen — even if it’s your parent, sibling, or partner. But there’s a reason you might crave a deeper connection. “Being close to others is essential for us to survive,” says Annie Zimmerman, a London-based psychotherapist and author of "Your Pocket Therapist." So how do you get someone to open up? What questions should you ask? And what should you avoid? Take notes, because Zimmerman knows the passcode to lower someone’s guard. 

How to get someone to open up

Lead by example, says Zimmerman. “Rather than pushing someone else to open up and putting pressure on them, which can actually push them further away, creating a culture of openness is a much less intrusive way to help someone open up,” she says. Zimmerman says you can…

  • Be vulnerable. “If you start by sharing your feelings, it will create an environment where the other person might feel more comfortable to do so.”

  • Be honest about what you want. “Tell the other person why you want them to open up,” says Zimmerman. This can be helpful if they are particularly closed off. “Let them know how their being closed impacts you, so they can understand how their fears [of opening up] are affecting their relationships.”

  • Be patient. “Opening up probably feels very scary, they’re closed for a reason — because it doesn’t feel safe … Hold a nonjudgemental space so they can open up on their own terms.” Active listening and not being critical can help. 

  • Accept them for who they are. “Not everyone wants to open up, nor should they. It is up to the individual whether they want to challenge themselves to be more open.” 

Ask these questions to get someone to open up emotionally

After you’ve set the stage, Zimmerman suggests asking gentle but curious questions throughout your conversation. Emphasis on gentle. Being judgmental can “easily scare someone back into their shell,” she says. So avoid accusatory questions like, “Why do you never talk to me?” You may also want to steer clear of yes-or-no questions, which may not yield much of a response. Instead, try asking…

A new person in your life:

  • How are you?

  • What is your communication style?

  • What makes you feel appreciated?

Someone you've known for a while:

  • What do you find hard about opening up?

  • How can I help you without pressuring you?

  • What’s something you’ve never told anyone before?


Right now you might be asking, “Can I get a connection?” But with some time, patience, and the right questions, you may find your relationships stronger than ever. It will have a major impact on your mental health now and later. 

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 

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