Do your conversations seem artificial and meaningless? Do you find it difficult to go beyond niceties? What do you do when the answers you get are rote, scripted, and hide the “real” stuff underneath them?
The innocuous “How are you?” at the start of a conversation often begets a rote and scripted response like “I am fine,” or “I am doing good.” which is more of a conversation stopper than a conversation starter. Let us get serious and ask questions that prompt reflection and make space for deeper connections with people we care about.
We must always ask a question out of curiosity and care, and never out of obligation and norm.
Research has shown that people with deep relationships are healthier, happier, and live longer. Conversely, a lack of good relationships is associated with worse physical and mental health. The famous author Brene Brown says, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to.”
You owe it to yourself to break the logjam of meaningless conversations and connect with others on a deeper level. You can do that by asking some powerful questions – that will add meaning, purpose, and joy to your relationships. The below questions will reveal something real about a person’s life, character, and beliefs. These questions can’t be answered with a one-word response (good, yes, busy, fine) and will spark a deep conversation.
- Would you like to be famous? How?
- Define what your perfect day would look like?
- What are you most grateful for?
- If you could have one ability, which ability would you choose to have?
- What have you been waiting to do? Is there an unfulfilled dream? What are you waiting for?
- What do you value most in a friend?
- What is your best experience in life so far? What is your worst?
- Share an embarrassing moment from your life?
- If your house is burning, and the firefighter can only get one item out for you, what would you ask him to salvage? Why?
- If you can have lunch with anyone, whom would you like to have lunch with?
“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”―
Life’s biggest lessons and opportunities often come out of deep relationships with others. We interact with many people daily, and isn’t it a wasted opportunity if we never get to know them deeply?
We all know the warm feeling of human embrace and connection when we feel heard and understood by another human being. Deeply connecting with another person builds trust and inspires us. Asking powerful questions (and sharing our own answers to them) helps to understand what people value and to glimpse life from someone else’s perspective. On various occasions, I have been surprised on finding out how someone I thought was very different shares his or her deepest values with me. And vice-versa.
Asking these questions and listening to the answers often require practice and empathetic listening. But it can be very rewarding to establish deep connections with friends or colleagues. It makes working with them easier, joyful, and leads to long-lasting relationships.