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3 Simple Questions for Being an Extraordinary Conversationalist

By cutting to the chase and finding out what's most important to a person, you can immediately be of service to someone in a way that is very meaningful to him.
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"Oh no! Another networking reception?"

Do you ever feel this way when you think about the next social event where you'll be a room full of people you don't know and expected to "network"?

Do you think, "Not another hour of, 'So, where are you from?' and "What do you do?'"

Are you starting to yawn and nod off in boredom, and look like the baby above, just imagining such dull conversation?

Below are three simple questions that can transform your conversations at mixers, networking events, or even meeting someone while on an airplane. In fact, these questions can even be asked to invigorate conversations with people you've known for years.

All three questions revolve around the same theme. They are:

  • What are you most passionate about in your life right now?
  • What is the goal you're most excited about right now?
  • What is most important to you in your life right now?

By asking one of these questions early on in a conversation, some interesting things happen.

A Gift for the Other Person

The first thing you'll notice when you ask questions like these is that the conversation becomes a lot more animated. You're giving an incredible gift to the person with you whom you're talking.

You give her permission to talk about something she actually cares about and is excited about.

As a result, you'll likely find that the person you're talking with lights up and really gets into the conversation. If you ask some good follow up questions to her initial answers, you'll also likely find that she will be able to talk for quite a while on the subject.

You Can Immediately Be of Service

By cutting to the chase and finding out what's most important to a person, you can immediately be of service to someone in a way that is very meaningful to him.

For instance, if you learn that a person is really passionate about running, you can follow up with additional questions to get some great ideas about how you could be of help. You could recommend a good book, recommend a good trainer, or offer to introduce him to other people you know who are passionate about running.

If the person has a goal like earning a promotion, you could ask good follow-up questions that help you discover ways you could help her get promoted. Again, it could be as simple as a book recommendation or an introduction. But you're still being of service in a way that is really important to her.

Stand Out From the Crowd

People typically remember how you make them feel more than the words you say. When someone spends time talking with you about something important to them, they'll remember that they felt great while talking with you.

People will also remember that you offered to help them with something that's really important to them. This creates a sense of trust, which is a very positive and helpful feeling.

When contrasted with the typical conversations people have, you may be the most memorable conversation they've had in a long time.

You will certainly stand out from the crowd.


Matt Tenney is a social entrepreneur, an international keynote speaker, and the author of Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom.

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