Often I am surprised and surprise others by the amount of information that I can learn about a person in a very short period of time. It’s not uncommon for me to find out a person’s life story in the time it takes to get a coffee. If I had a superpower, I am pretty sure this would be it. Considering this, it is no wonder that I have predominately studied and worked in qualitative social research. For me, it’s because I have a passion for people that I am genuinely very interested in others and ask a lot of questions.
There is a fantastic quote by Dale Carnegie that says, “To be interesting, be interested.” If that is the case, I am one of the most fascinating people you will ever meet.
Being interested in others is becoming a lost art in a world that is becoming more and more inwards focused. Even when we ask questions, oftentimes we are less interested in what the other person is saying than in our response, which can lead to missing what they are saying and totally defeating the point of the question to begin with.
I truly believe that we can learn far more about the world by listening to others than we can by speaking ourselves. That is not to say that it is not important to share your own thoughts and ideas, and even share about yourself. But I have found that sharing your thoughts in the context of the thoughts of others is a far more powerful way to spread ideas and develop relationships.
As children we learn about the world through asking questions. I feel as though we should approach others with a child-like curiosity more. For some, asking questions about people may not feel natural, or like invasion of privacy. Trust me though, if someone does not want to answer something, they won’t.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some fantastic questions to start a great conversation and show your interest in others.
- How did you get to the position that you are in now?
- What are your interests?/ What do you like to do in your spare time?
- Where are you originally from? (this is particularly great to ask to people with noticable accents)
- What made you decide to become a *insert position*?
- What is the best holiday that you have ever been on?
People want to feel like others care about them – and being interested is one amazing way to do that.
What questions do you like to ask to show you are interested in others? I would love for you to share in the comments below.