Mastering Relationships: The 7 levels of intimacy, a system by Matthew Kelly

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By Stefan Aarnio, award winning real estate entrepreneur, author and coach.


In the words of the famous poet John Donne: “No man is an island.” Whether you are a new born baby or the President of the United States, we all rely on relationships and our networks for our basic survival and our ability to thrive. For those of us who are pursuing entrepreneurship, business or real estate investing; our relationships are our one and only asset. We all hear the guru’s say: “your network equals your net worth”, but how do we build, grow and maintain a rich network of people? The most successful people in society are the ones who can establish, build and maintain a large number of significant, intimate, relationships. But how do we connect on a significant level? Most people are fairly adept at establishing relationships with people who are similar to themselves. They can find similar interests and form “intimacy” and bonds with people who are THE SAME as them over time. However, most people do not understand the rudiments of establishing a relationship. Further, most people do not know how to master intimacy and bring people closer to them quicker. Mathew Kelly is an author and relationship expert who wrote one of the books that influenced entitled: “The Seven Levels of Intimacy”. I have studied Mathew’s work for years and have applied it in my networking, personal life, sales, negotiations and important meetings. It helps me understand people and truly connect with them so that I can find what they need and actually help them. Mastering the 7 levels of intimacy can make or break you when meeting someone COLD and you know nothing about them. Many of us are talented at working with WARM meetings, but COLD meetings have higher requirements for establishing connection. I am naturally a “people person” and can connect very easily with people. However, it’s not enough to know HOW to connect… we must understand WHY we connect and HOW connection is established. The 7 Levels of Intimacy are in sequential order:

  1. Cliché’s
  2. Facts
  3. Opinions
  4. Hopes and Dreams
  5. Feelings
  6. Weaknesses and Fears
  7. Needs

The seven levels of intimacy work in

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a sequence. You cannot jump to the next level of intimacy without succeeding on the previous level. For example, conversations flow through the levels of intimacy in sequence from level 1 to level 7 and they do not deviate from this rule – EVER. It’s very hard to jump to the “next level” without satisfying the previous level. Furthermore, if you create a disagreement and blockage at a level, you will not advance into the higher levels until you remove the blockage. These levels need to flow and creating conflict at one level will stop the sequence of connecting. For illustration purposes, I will artificially construct a conversation between two hypothetical people that could accelerate from level 1-7 in less than 3 minutes:

  1. LEVEL 1: Cliché’s – ME: “hey, how are you?”… YOU: “I’m good!”
  2. LEVEL 2: Facts – ME: “Did you get caught in the rain today?”. YOU: “yes I did, I can’t believe the amount of rain outside!!”
  3. LEVEL 3: Opinions – ME: “What do you think about the Winnipeg Jets coming back to town?” YOU: “I think it’s great for the city, it really helps put us on the map.”
  4. LEVEL 4: Hopes and Dreams ME: “It sure does put us on the map! Why were you running around in the rain today? What would you rather be doing?” YOU: “Ugh, I was running around in the rain because I’m making deliveries for my office, I’d rather be travelling the world!”
  5. LEVEL 5: Feelings ME: “How would you feel if you didn’t have to run around in the rain any more and could travel the world in the way you want?” … YOU “I would absolutely love that. Nothing excites me more than travelling”.
  6. LEVEL 6: Fears/Weaknesses – ME “What is stopping you from pursuing your dream? What’s holding you back?” … YOU “I don’t want to burden my family with my selfish dream, I need to support them or they won’t survive without me”
  7. LEVEL 7: Needs – ME “Hmmm… What would your family need to survive so that you can pursue your dream and everyone remains happy?” YOU “well… etc.”

Whenever I am in conversation with someone, whether it is brief 5 minute meeting or a long 2 hour talk, I like to know WHERE I am in the 7 levels of intimacy so that I can accelerate and move to the next level if I feel like I need to. Everyone has needs, and if you can find another person’s needs, you can truly help them and create life lasting bonds and relationships. NOTE: If you are selling or negotiating, you cannot “close” until you are on level 7. The majority of the population are pre-programmed to be socially guarded and will conceal weaknesses and needs until you have successfully moved through levels 1-5. TIP: Once you have hit level 5 (feelings) you have reached an emotional level and connection starts to begin. Many newbie networkers, salespeople or negotiators will ask right of the bat “what are your needs, what do you need?”. I especially see this in the network marketing community when I get pitched by new network marketers. TIP: If you are going to meet someone for lunch, talk for 58 minutes to build a relationship and 2 minutes of transactional business at the very end. Get them up to level 7 and close in the last 2 minutes. So many people try to talk business far too early and not use their time to establish a proper connection or analysis of what the other person truly needs. Approach the other person with a “how can I help you?” attitude. Trying to connect on level 7 without building rapport, connection or intimacy through levels 1-6 is nearly impossible. You will get concealment of facts and lies about levels 6 and 7 until you have established a proper base connection. At best, your prospect will feed you a lie to deflect your inquiry about their higher level needs and will likely say: “I’m fine, I really don’t need anything”. How often do we hear that on a daily basis from the people around us? EVERYONE NEEDS SOMETHING, WE ARE ALL LOOKING FOR THINGS. WE ALL NEED THINGS ALL THE TIME. THE QUESTION IS, WHAT DOES OUR COMPANION NEED? Connection happens when you are able to navigate the conversation through levels 1-7 in the proper sequence, you may find out that (for example) “Their father just died and they’re feeling vulnerable. They are the executor of his house and don’t know who to talk to about real estate. They are looking for an expert. They don’t like realtors and need to sell immediately but afraid of contracts, contracotrs, salespeople and commissions. They also don’t want to pay for repairs.” Opportunities come from connecting and being intimate with the people we come into contact with. All people, rich or poor want one thing… We all want to connect. If you can connect with a person, and move them through the levels of intimacy without creating conflict or blockage in the sequence, you will find what motivates them, what scares them, what their concerns are and finally what they NEED to feel secure to work with you. Mathew Kelly has recognized a brilliant pattern in social behaviour and has cracked the mechanical code for human connection. If you can memorize or learn a few key questions to “move through the levels”, then you will never be stuck in a conversation with nothing to say ever again. You will never be stagnant and will be a master of connection. The following questions are ones that I have learned years ago and memorized from Knowing a few of these key transition questions will transform you into an instant “people person”. I have seen results for years using this method and have been connecting deeper and faster with people than ever before. Please enjoy the following resource: Questions to Help You Navigate the 7 Levels of Intimacy:

  1. Cliché
    • How are you?
    • What have you been up to lately?
  2. Facts
    • Non-personal
      • What was the score of the game?
      • What is the weather forecast?
    • Personal
      • What did you do today?
      • What have you learned recently?
      • What have you been reading lately?
      • What is your favorite color, food, song etc.?
  3. Opinions
    • What are your preferences concerning…?
    • What are your beliefs about…?
    • What do you think about…?
  4. Hopes and Dreams
    • If you could live any way you liked, how would you like to live?
    • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?
    • What goals do you have for your life?
    • What area of study would you like to become an expert in?
    • If you could be famous for something, what would you like to be famous for?
    • What would you like written on your tombstone? In your obituary?
    • Who would you like to help? How would you help them if you could?
    • What one thing would make you truly happy?
    • Who are the people you’d like to learn from in life?
    • What personal qualities do you hope to develop in the future?
    • What skills do you hope to develop in your lifetime?
    • What do you dream about being the best in the world at doing?
    • What are 5 things you dream about having?
    • What are 5 things you dream about doing?
    • What are 5 things you dream about being?
    • Who are 5 people or groups you dream about helping?
    • What would you do if you knew you could not fail at it?
  5. Feelings
    • When in our life have you felt special to others?
    • Who in your life made you feel safe, loved, accepted? How did they do that?
    • Who in your life made you feel the most rejected, devalued, abandoned, invisible?
    • What are you most passionate about?
    • What do you feel about:
      • Your relationship to God?
      • Your most significant friendship?
      • Your relationship to your parents?
      • Your relationship to co-workers?
      • Your reputation in the community?
    • How secure do you feel in your life right now? (Why, or Why not?)
    • How significant do you feel in your ability to contribute to others, to your community, to the world? (In what way? Why, or Why not?)
    • Do you feel like you are becoming the person you want to be?
    • Do you feel like you belong?
    • Do you feel competent in your ability to build something of value?
    • What are the biggest hurts have you experienced in the past?
  6. Fears, Failures, Weaknesses
    • What makes you feel like you don’t measure up?
    • What makes you feel like you are unlovable?
    • What do you think would make others reject you?
    • What are some lies you’ve been told in the past?
    • What do you feel you must hide from others out of fear that they would reject you?
    • What makes you feel ignored?
    • What makes you feel rejected?
    • What makes you feel humiliated?
    • What makes you feel incompetent?
    • What makes you feel like a failure?
    • What makes you feel inadequate?
    • What is your biggest fear in life?
  7. Needs
    • Spirit – what do you need to thrive spiritually?
    • Soul – what do you need to thrive in your relationships?
    • Mind – what do you need to learn and grow in to thrive mentally?
    • Strength – what do you need thrive physically?
    • When have you experienced great joy?
    • Describe what you think constitutes true happiness?
    • How do you help others experience joy?
    • What do you need in order to be secure?
    • What do you need in order to be safe?
    • What do you need in order to be significant?
    • What do you need in order to be competent?
    • What do you need in order to be powerful?
    • What do you need in order to belong?
    • What do you need to be clear about?
    • What do you need in order to build something of lasting value?
    • What do you need to know God better?
    • What do you need to feel special to others?
    • What do you need in order to feel like you are understood?
    • What do you need in order to do something great?
    • What do you need in order to achieve something that will last?
    • What recognition do you need?

If you can memorize a few of these key transition questions to “accelerate” and master conversational intimacy then you will connect every time! You will become a master of creating personal connection with the people you network with, meet, sell and negotiate with. I can guarantee that you will see HUGE results in the depth of personal connection and opportunity in every relationship. If you can master the system above. I challenge you take some time to study this list and implement it in your day to day interactions, you will not be disappointed.

Thanks for reading, Stefan Aarnio

P.S. Please share this article if you found it helpful! P.P.S. “The 7 levels of intimacy” is available in the Resource section of should you wish to purchase a copy (highly recommended).



10007528_10153951499500596_499871011_nStefan Aarnio, award winning real estate investor, entrepreneur, author and coach was recently inducted into the Rich Dad Hall of Fame. His book, “Money People Deal: The Fastest Way to Real Estate Wealth” is currently available on  To learn more about Stefan Aarnio please visit