The other day, we were saying that if you find somebody boring, it’s because you didn’t ask the right questions. Today, we are going to learn what kinds of questions you should ask, and in which order.
1) Ask general questions
So first let’s get these “boring” people to talk at all! Start with closed-ended questions, which are easier to reply to. Something like “Is it your first time at this event?”. Then make your way to open-ended questions, such as “How did you hear about this event?”. Keep the topics general in this first phase: you will make it easier for shy and reserved people to break the ice.
2) Ask personal questions
Now move to personal questions, but still keep them quite general. What I call “identity card questions” are ideal here: “What’s your name?”, “Where do you come from?”, “Have you been living here for a long time?”. The only taboo question: work. You are interested in the person, not in their career! By the way, have you ever noticed that the Anglo-Saxons always ask you about yourself, and at the same time are never too nosy? As a matter of fact, they are some of the best conversationalists in the world!
3) Find out their passions
Now shift from the whats to the whys. “So why did you decide to move to this country?”. “What led you to pick up this hobby?”. People’s reasons are tightly correlated with their life values. Find out their passions, discover what moves them. Once their enthusiasm gets awakened, they won’t stop talking! Besides, they will also feel good as you made them feel interesting. Because people don’t remember facts about you: they remember how you made them feel. And by the way: you don’t have to pretend you’re enjoying their favourite topic: as the intellectually curious person you are, you’ll be happy to learn about anything – won’t you?
4) Discover commonalities
Making people feel interesting and enthusiastic is an amazing technique for instant connecting, but it can get even better. If you find commonalities between you and your interlocutor, you will be able to establish an even deeper connection, as they will find you interesting too. And this just a few minutes into the conversation! The apotheosis comes when the two of you discover that you have the potential to create something together: this immediately projects you to the future – a common future!
So we’ve seen that questions are the number one technique to start and lead a conversation. However, we want a dialogue, not an interrogation! So make sure you also bring content, possibly related to the subject of discussion. This way, your interlocutor will have the impression that they are learning from you too.