With all the holiday parties coming up, odds are you’ll find yourself talking to someone you don’t know well. Instead of asking, “what do you think about that snow?” or “what do you do?” use these smart questions for more meaningful conversation.
Carly Hazen shares how to avoid the dreaded small talk, and get in to deeper discussions with the people you interact with.
5 Smart Questions for More Meaningful Conversation
Ever walk into a networking event or cocktail party and all you hear is superficial chit-chat? The small talk is deafening and doesn’t evolve into anything substantial. You can hardly stand not to elicit an eye-roll in between visits to the cheese platter. Questions like what do you do? and where do you live? are predictable and exhausting; commentary about the weather or last night’s Jazz game fill up awkward moments as people size each other up to determine — is this is someone I actually want to talk to?
As it turns out, the types of conversations you’re engaging in truly matter for your personal well being! If you are someone who wants to make meaningful connections with new people, skip the small talk and ask a few questions that will lead to deeper conversations. It’s a greater risk, with a much greater reward.
Here are a few tips to “go deeper” with new people, without getting overly personal or intrusive.
Ask the deep stuff. If you are not real, your conversations will hover on the surface-level topics. It’s refreshing to talk about more meaningful areas of our lives. It’s true some of those conversation starters may be a bit forward, but if the conversation is progressing well, try them. You never know what you will find out!
Ask a question with no right or wrong answer
Any question that is open ended will work well because everyone has a different answer and there is no right or wrong answer. It can become exciting if you both realize you are from the same place or like the same things.
5 Life Questions
1) When you were a kid what did you think your life would look like now?
An ideal conversation starter for a first conversation is a Trojan Horse – it’s something light and whimsical, but actually it’s a good excuse for you to hear about (and share) your aspirations, and open up potential conversations about your childhoods, education, or hobbies.
2) What excites you?
3) What would this chapter of your life be called? (a favorite!)
4) What is one life lesson that you think everyone should know?
5) How are you feeling these days?
5 Work and Entertainment Questions
1) If you weren’t in your current line of work, what would you be doing?
2) What book has influenced you the most?
3) What was the last movie that made you cry? and/or What was the last movie that made you laugh out loud?
4) On a scale of 1-20: How weird are you?
5) Tell me something that’s true – – that nobody agrees with you on!
And maybe the million-dollar question…
What’s the most important thing I should know about you?