When you meet new people, do you wonder what to talk about?
As an introvert, this is always a struggle. It’s tough for me to get to know NEW people because I’m perfectly comfortable sitting away from the main conversation. And when I meet new and interesting people, I don’t alway know what to talk about.
Sometimes, I end up talking about random facts, stating strong opinions that aren’t relevant, or trying to be funny.
A friend once challenged me on this. He said I was too concerned with being interesting and I needed to work harder and being interested. He said I needed to become a better listener and engager of people.
Asking better questions is a way to be interested in people. It keeps you away from the same ole dribble about work and weather. It keeps you away from doing all the talking and none of the listening.
Here are seven interesting questions you could ask when you meet people.
- What are you working on that’s big? I heard my pastor mention this in a sermon or a podcast. He said one of his mentors asks this question of him sometimes. It’s a great question because it opens the door to discuss the future and big ideas.
- I don’t understand…can you explain that to me? Malcolm Gladwell said his father asks these kinds of questions all the time. He just keeps asking a form of this question until he fully understands.
- Are you excited about visiting some place sometime soon? This can be interesting because you can learn about a new place. People also get excited when they talk about their upcoming travel plans.
- What choices have you made in life that have gotten you to where you are now? This is a really great question because it gets people talking about their own life experiences in the contexts of lessons. There’s so much wisdom there.
- Who are you learning from these days? This question helps you tap into the influencers.
- What have you changed your mind about in the last few years? I saw this question in Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris and love it. It’s a different way to get people to talk about their beliefs and how they have changed.
- What’s your family into? This is a more personal question, but I’ve found that people really love to talk about the personalities and hobbies of their kids. It’s a great way to lean into a conversation rather than doing all the talking.
Comedian Mike Birbiglia says you need to be interesting and ask unexpected questions. For example, if you happen to run into Jimmy Fallon on the street, don’t tell him you love his show. Everybody does that. It’s not memorable at all.
Instead, ask a unique and interesting question. When Mike met the President of the United States, he asked for advice on raising babies and he and the President had a conversation about changing diapers. Now that’s a memorable experience!
I’m going to work on asking better questions this year.