You think you know someone. You may have lived with them for years, then one day they share an experience you’ve never heard before.

We’re often surprised, but should we be? We can’t be with someone 100% of the time, so there will always be unshared experiences. The trick is to discover the unshared gems by finding ways to jump into their past with them.

Ask questions

It’s obvious, but not often used. When we ask questions we open a window into our friend’s past. Too often we wait for them to share what they feel is important, but that only scratches the surface.

Ask a question about something you may already know. Then ask about the details of the memory. Dig deeper and deeper until you understand the memory.

For example, you’ve likely heard the story about how your parents met. But do you know what they did on their second date? What was their favorite restaurant? Second favorite? What activities did they like doing together at first? What songs did they listen to? What songs did they avoid? How did they decide on their first gifts for each other? What did their friends say about them?

Keep asking. With every answer is a key to another set of questions.

Find photos

A picture is worth a thousand words. And it brings out so many more questions. When asking questions, see if they have a photo related to the experience. As you look at the photo you’ll find other details that will lead to sharing more experiences.

Look for others in the photo. Look at the background. Notice what they were wearing. Don’t assume anything is ordinary. There is a story behind the furniture, the room they are in, nearby animals, even the weather.

If they don’t have a photo of the experience, perhaps there’s one from the time period or near the location. Even those photos can help elicit more details about the memory.

Record it

As the memory is being shared, right it down or record it. Keep a digital copy of any photos. This makes it easy to refer back to the memory in the future. It also makes it possible to add to it later. Once pricked, memories have a way of returning with more details over time.

Create a timeline

As you record memories, you will start to assemble a timeline of your friend’s life events. Not only will you have all the experiences to enjoy, you will also start to identify where gaps exist. These gaps give you an opportunity to identify even more questions.

You may find that your friend considered certain experiences unremarkable. But the more you learn the more you’ll find, and help them realize, just how remarkable they are. All these experiences combined to make them who they are today.

Early Me makes this easy

Early Me guides you through this entire process. What’s more, you don’t have to be with your friend in-person. You can ask questions as you have them and they will respond as they have time. You can ask follow-up questions and they can expand on their memories at any point.

With Early Me’s Android and iPhone apps, you can share memories on the go. It’s easy to answer while you’re in line at the grocery store or waiting for your daughter’s piano lesson to end.

Take the time to really get to know those you love. The process is rewarding and entertaining. The recorded memories and deepened relationships are priceless.