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Looking Ahead Looking Behind
Have you ever argued with someone who's passionate about a sports team? Or maybe their passion was for a hobby and you blundered into a discussion contradicting something they felt was unassailable. If you argued, logic didn't really win the day. Passion just doesn't work that way. All the facts in the world won't change a true believer's mind. The best you can hope for is an agreement to disagree, or a truce of silence.
People have feelings about all kinds of things, not just hobbies and sports. Learning to identify passions, both your own and others, is a critical skill for career development. One of the tricks to understanding what someone else feels strongly about is to find out what they are looking forward to, and what they have done in the past. In other words, start looking ahead and looking behind. This happens naturally in conversation. When people talk they tend to drift towards the future or back to the past. It's a logical approach to feelings and yet, feelings are not logical.
For example, last year I introduced my friend, Phil, to my brother, Jack. As it turns out, my brother's a passionate baseball fan and my friend's a part-time professional baseball scout for the Chicago Cubs. Once my brother learned Phil was a professional scout, the first question out of Jack's mouth was: how long have you been doing that? We talked for another ten or fifteen minutes with lots of detailed baseball questions, but it wasn't long before Jack again asked Phil: are you going down to Spring Training in March? In the course of fifteen minutes my brother had questioned Phil about both the past and the future. Their passion for baseball was clear. By discussing both the past and future of their common interest, they signaled that passion to each other.
You'll find it's the same with everyone else. If they have strong feelings, whether negative or positive, asking about the past and the future will give you a read on their commitment to this area of interest