Meeting new people in a social or work-related setting can sometimes be an intimidating experience. You might be new to a group and feel some difficulty connecting with people. It might take courage to speak up. At other times, the talk itself comes easy but somehow you don’t get beyond the surface level of small talk.
There’s a simple solution to such challenges – asking questions. By asking a question, you can introduce a new topic or even start a new conversation. At the same time, it does not require you to be very confident or even knowledgeable because it will be the other person(s) doing most of the talking. Chances are that they even enjoy taking that role and that by following up your initial query with more questions, you will arrive at a topic meaningful to both of you.
This being said, interrogation is not a conversation strategy. You can prepare yourself by choosing questions to get to know someone that makes sense for the context you’re in. We’ve categorized questions for you to use in different situations and environments.
Questions to get to know someone at work
We spend a sizable amount of our every day at work with our co-workers. Having in-depth conversations with your colleagues can help foster trust and a comfortable atmosphere in your work environment. These can often occur spontaneously at the coffee machine or at the office pantry. If they don’t, you might also want to help luck and suggest a more or less formal team building. You can play along with these questions during your team building activities.
- How do you stay productive and motivated?
- How have your priorities on the job changed over time?
- Building on the experience you had so far, what would be your next dream job (or assignment)?
- Going completely outside your previous experience, what would be a different kind of job or assignment you’d love to try out?
- Why did you decide to work in this field?
- In what situations do you most likely feel you are out of place?
- Where do you spend your holidays? How do you imagine spending it?
- What personality trait do you find most useful in your job?
- What’s something you’re good at?
- What was a situation where you took a leading role? When did you follow?
- If you dared to do anything you wanted, would it change the choices you make?
- What was the first thing you bought with your first paycheck? And why?
- What’s an accomplishment you are proud of?
Need a team building activity with your team members or looking for a good conversation starter? The metaFox deep questions “About Us” card deck is designed specially to help groups of people connect deeply with each other.
Questions to get to know someone (better) when you interact online
When most interactions with colleagues happen online, the coincidental deep conversation in the office kitchen becomes impossible. In order to still connect with people in this virtual world, start with honesty, making you vulnerable without the fear of being judged. Maybe you can share something personal to get things started. Then, ask them an open-ended question to kick off a great conversation and find solace in recreational socialization.
- How are your priorities when it comes to work and family? What helps you to live according to these priorities?
- Where do you usually go when you have time off?
- What is one thing you never get bored of?
- What is your family like?
- How does your morning / work routine look like?
- What’s a habit you’d like to change? Which habit would you like to build?
- What is your take on social media? On which kind of media do you spend most of your time?
- How do you separate work and personal life during home office work?
- What is a nice thing that happened this week?
- Who in your life are you grateful for?
- What do you usually notice about a person you meet for the first time? What’s the big difference between meeting online and in-person?
If you’d like to go for a more formal setting to facilitate the conversation’s process you can also use a tool like metaFox online – the equivalent of conversation cards for the digital world.
Questions for getting to know someone you meet when you travel
Travelling is one of the best ways to (re)discover yourself and create profound memories. Oh, the fun of adventure and meeting new people! These questions are for self-discovery as well as for gathering some exciting ideas from the people you meet on your next escapade.
- What do you like about the place?
- What are your plans for this trip?
- What foods are you most excited to try?
- If your life were a movie, what could the title be?
- Do you prefer beaches or mountains?
- Do you prefer to travel by air or by sea?
- Places you went to or planning to go to next time?
- Was it easy to find and buy stuff along the way?
- What souvenirs are you planning to bring home?
- What is unique about the place you grew up in?
- What city would you most like to go back to?
- What do they like about traveling?
- If you had a personal flag, what would be on it?
- What place is on the top of your bucket list?
- Would you try shark diving, bungee jumping, or skydiving?
- What are your preferences when it comes to planning and spontaneity?
- What is the first thing you do when you get home from a trip?
- How often do you travel?
- Do you prefer to travel solo or with someone else?
- Is there any scary moment in your travels?
- Which place or country has the friendliest and most approachable people?
- What do you think about being a nomad for life?
- Which country has the best weather in your experience?
- Is there anything you would wish you did first before leaving home?
- Which country has the strictest travel policy?
The metaFox deep questions ‘About Us‘ card deck is also travel-friendly with its compact size. You can bring this card deck with you and play anytime, anywhere with everyone to create a memorable interaction.
Questions for getting to know someone you meet at an event or party
You’ll likely want to know some people and possibly be friends, so the best idea is to ask questions about them. It is also beneficial to have more conversations with acquaintances and talk about something you might both have in common, and eventually develop interpersonal connections.
- How did you know the host?
- What brings you to this event?
- What is the most exciting thing you’ve done this week? How about in the last year?
- What do you currently spend a lot of time on? What is exciting about it?
- If you were a character in Harry Potter, which Hogwarts House would you want to be in?
- If you could be one of the characters from a TV show or movie, who would you be and why?
- If you were given a chance to be a millionaire, would you quit working and start traveling?
- What’s the most immature thing you’ve ever done?
- What do you appreciate most about a friendship you have?
- If you can time travel, would you go back to the past or go forward to the future?
- If you have a pet and can ask them three questions, what are they?
- If you could choose your name, what would we call you now?
- If you can move to a different country, where will it be?
- When was the first and last time you went to a concert?
- What do you think is the worst and best thing about getting older?
- What is your take on polyamory?
- How many relationships have you been in? What are the best lessons you’ve gained from them?
- Do you easily forgive someone? Why? Why not?
Questions to get to know someone you’re on a date with
From asking questions in a party environment, it sometimes isn’t a long way to the romantic space. When being out on a date, making meaningful conversation can be even more challenging than in a work or fun environment. And again, asking good questions is key also in this context. This is even shown by evidence: one of the most cited works in the field of “what questions to ask” is a study by Arthur Aron et al.1 from the State University of New York. They found that questions focusing on mutual vulnerability contribute a lot to building a connection. Another very practical aspect is the order such questions are to be asked. An order of escalating personal self-disclosure helps to ease the process.
But academic advice and theorising aside, next time you’re on a date with a playful counterpart who is up for this kind of exercise, try it yourself. Ladies & gentlemen, these are the official “36 questions to fall in love”:
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling…”
- Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share …”
- If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
- Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
- Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Principles for asking questions
Making a connection with someone takes time and energy, but it can result in a more substantial commitment and a meaningful relationship. Of course, all suggestions provided above can also be used in different contexts. However, structuring your repertoire of get-to-know questions can help you to remember and have it available in the right context. This is also why the metaFox deep questions ‘About Us’ contains categories hardwired to create a deep and long-lasting connection with other people. These are some of them:
Discussing life experiences are full of lessons and rich for our soul. From these questions, you also involve yourself in gaining knowledge, reflecting, and self-contemplating from people’s experiences.
- What memory instantly makes you smile?
- Which character from a book, movie, or story has impressed you?
From here, you’ll understand people’s reality and how they act upon life. These questions uncover how our beliefs influence our lives.
- What do you think about social media?
- When is it acceptable, if ever, to disobey the law?
Let’s get personal
Questions in this category creates an easy atmosphere that encourages everyone to share a glimpse of their inner lives.
- What is your life motto?
- What is your favorite body part?
Start inside: your attitude when asking questions to get to know someone
When we ask questions to get to know someone, we are asking people to reveal and bare their souls, and so we should reciprocate and be open as well. After all, we want to have meaningful conversations with like-minded people.
A few points to take in – letting these points shape your attitude when interacting with people will help you beyond all question lists:
Express yourself genuinely.
Be genuine and honest. Nothing beats the authentic happiness of having a conversation with someone that shows their true self.
Show willingness to hear new things and ideas. Be open to new learnings and receptive to the opinions of others.
Ask (many and open) questions.
To make them more likely to enjoy your company and the conversation, allow others to answer whatever they like, without limiting them with predefined answers.
Find and build things you have in common.
This is an excellent technique to forge a stronger connection. Discuss the same interests that will be mutually beneficial to both of you.
Recognize their emotions and understand the person on a deeper level. What might they be thinking or feeling? Emotions play a significant role in communicating.
Want to delve even deeper into the topic of emotions and empathy? Have a look at the metaFox ‘Emotions Compass for Coaching and Therapy‘ to help you better navigate your feelings. This content-at-a-glance also includes body sensations and thoughts associated with feelings and emotions.
1Aron, A., Melinat, E., Aron, E., Vallone, R.D., Bator, R. “The Experimental Generation of Impersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings”