Social and emotional intelligence experts all agree that a combination of a few tools and good intuition are a sure combination for great success. Let's start with the tools—great tools—for putting both yourself and people you are talking with at ease, even helping to carry the conversation.
You hear to ask open-ended questions. That's very true, but don't get so stuck on this advice that you completely avoid some open-and-shut questions that could guide you to the right subject matter.
Great! You have your toolkit full of questions. Don't be so anxious to ask them that you forget to listen to the answers. Expect, and even hope you don't use every question in your arsenal. Remember that ideas is to have a few questions that jumpstart a natural, organic flow of conversing—asking and listening and learning from both sides.
- Open the subject of books & reading: Do you like to read?
- What was it about the last book you couldn't put down that kept you so interested?
- What are the top genres you enjoy?
- What are you reading currently?
- Open the subject of travel: Have you traveled anywhere interesting lately?
- What would you do if you went there again?
- How was the travel getting and coming back?
- What was the best part of the city / culture / food / trip?
- Open the subject of giving back:
- Are you involved with any causes or charities?
- How did you / What made you decide to affiliate yourself with them?
- What kind of projects / work is coming up and are you joining in?
- Open the subject of movies, television:
- Do anyone you watch (insert a show you like)
- What's out there right now that I need to be watching?
- When do you find time to watch?
- Open the subject of their interests:
- When you find yourself with a free moment, what's your go-to indulgence?
- If you're standing in the freezer section of the market, what one item will you get and go home to eat immediately?
- When was the last time you had a meal so good you almost forget you were with other people?
- f you could have any kind you wanted, what kind of animal is your pet of choice?
- What did your 8-year-old-self want to be when you grew up?
- How do you know (insert the host or a common person you both are attending the party/event for)
Clearly, there are plenty more—and we'd love comments with more of your favorite conversation-starter questions. It's still best to avoid controversial subjects, such as religion and politics. The true savant in these situations will avoid making assumptions and ask questions that show they are listening with an open mind.
Enjoy putting these tips into practice, and finding a rewarding new way to truly #livebeautifully
xx, Heather Wiese