Questions are one of the best ways to get to know other people and we all seem to have our favorites. Some people want to know if you have children or what your hobbies are. My mom loved to know when someone’s birthday was in case anyone shared her special day (as far as I know she never found anyone who did, but bless her, she kept asking.)
For years, my first question (beyond the basics) was “What do you do?” I love to know what people do for work and am particularly excited when I learn that something is a job I didn’t even know existed.
In the last few years, my favorite question has changed. Although I still like to know what someone’s occupation is, I now really like to find out what they are learning.
This question has become so important that we ask a variation of it at the end of most trainings and when we coach. Versions include, “What are you taking away from today?” “What will you be thinking more about?” “What was new information (or something you had heard before that you were reminded of) today?”
It’s always enlightening to hear what people have to say as their answer indicates their filters. It’s interesting to follow that question with another, “How do you plan to use that or how do you think that information will be valuable to you?”
This gives me insight not only into where their focus is, but also what’s important to them. It’s also a sneaky way for me to learn something too!
In truth, this question probably says more about me than the person of whom it is being asked. I value learning and can pick up a useful nugget in virtually any situation. I respect when others are motivated to learn and love to hear what they plan to put into practice.
It’s possible you have never considered this, but what question do you like to ask to better connect with someone you just met? Why is that question the one you find valuable? What does it say about you that it is your ‘go to’?
The next time we interact, don’t be surprised if I somehow find a way to ask you what you are learning.
I hope you will ask your favorite question, right back.