20 Questions You Should Always Ask
So, it turns out that I am (proudly) in my late twenties (holler).
A strong marker for reaching this age (somewhere in that fuzzy window between 25 and 35) is that you have likely attended at least a dozen awkward, slightly uncomfortable networking events.
Just gonna be real, here. For the most part, I enjoy going out and meeting new people. However, I must be honest and say that I am so, totally, completely, whole-heartedly over the trite question that permeates networking events everywhere,
“What do you do?”
You know, that dreaded, standardized and bastardized “getting to know you” inquiry that pervades nearly every schmoozing event known to man-kind.
I might be being dramatic, but I think that you know what I am talking about.
It’s not a horrendous question, I admit. However, if we are trying to get to know who people are, it has often confused me that we start with someone’s profession and employment, not insights about the person themselves.
Yes, our work matters.
Yes, our work can tell a lot about our interests, talents, abilities, or preferences.
However, sadly, I think we place too much stock in who a person is based on the job they hold. The employment written on our resume, Linked In, or name-tag has come to equate the value a person has. And that’s not a good thing, in my opinion.
I’m guilty as anyone.
For a good chunk of my life, I committed myself zealously to one thing, and to one thing only: I must change the world. And, obviously, this can only happen through my job or the work I do.
I’m being facetious, but this line of thinking was and has been 100% true.
Lately, instead, I’ve been trying to think “outside the box” and consider that perhaps, maybe our lives (and our jobs) don’t always need to be solution-driven. Our work doesn’t have to exist only in direct opposition to a problem that persists in the world.
Most of the time, our work is much more nuanced and complicated than this. What about researchers? Waitresses? Graphic designers? Bus-drivers?Principals? Ministers? Economists? Manufacturers? Car Salesmen?
A lot of the time, our work is providing services, skills, projects, or tasks that are value-adds to economies (globally), to education, to business, to communities, to health services, or other kinds of sectors that then might be helping with the world simply by being a part of a collective work. We can change the world because we are a part of it and addressing injustices, gaps, and wholes in all kinds of ways.
Our singular job title will never tell the whole story. It adds to the story, I think. Usually, people are in a line of work for a reason: perhaps they need the paycheck only, but sometimes, they’ve selected that industry or sector because they are passionate, want to help, or are hella smart. Yes, I said hella.
This year, I have started writing a book that is focused on influential women in my life. The concept is still evolving, but the main idea is to capture the power that stories have relationally: who we are inherently affects the people around us. Writing a book that tells the stories of others has meant a lot of interviewing and asking questions – and my, oh my, I love asking questions.
In my handy-archive of questions that I enjoy asking to new friends, old friends, and strangers on the street (that’s not an exaggeration), here are the 20 that I love the most.
If you would like to change the conversation too, then hey, these questions are a great place to start. These questions help brighten those occasionally mundane and stuffy networking events – especially if there is cheese and wine – so have fun, and be bold. They help bring out stories – not resumes – and to me, that’s always a move in the right direction. These are good for those spaces – but also for friends, grandparents, neighbors, and co-workers.
You never know what small questions might lead to.
Good luck, and happy conversations.
What is the earliest memory you have?
When you were a kid, what did you want to be? Did it change?
Have you been in love? What was it like?
Do you believe in soulmates? Why or why not?
Who had the greatest impact on you in your life?
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
What three adjectives would your friends use to describe you?
What is the one thing you have always wanted to do in your life but
If you could only have one super power what would it be?
Describe your biggest fear.
Where would you go if you could go anywhere for one day?
In your world, what does “balance” mean and look like?
What makes you most sad about the world and do you think that issue or problem is solvable?
How would you describe “home”?
Share a moment from your life when you were completely, totally free and/or happy.
What do you like most about yourself?
What is your greatest weakness?
What do you think the point of life is?
What will always make you laugh?