Are you connecting … or categorizing?

One of the many things that happened along the way for me on this journey is that I stopped asking or answering certain types of questions. Examples:

* Where did you grow up?
* Where did you go to school?
* What do you do for your day job?
* How old are you?
* Which neighborhood do you live in?

It’s a little humorous because for many people, their idea of conversation IS these questions. If you took these questions away from them, they would literally be speechless. They’d have no idea what to say. And THAT is the problem.

If I ask someone that entire series of interview-style questions, what have I really learned about them that I can connect with, AT AN EMOTIONAL LEVEL? Unless that person is skillful enough to translate dead questions into living answers, I have learned … Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I don’t ask these questions because the answers don’t tell me anything about the human being in front of me. I don’t answer these questions because they feel off-putting. When people ask questions like this, it feels like they are on auto-pilot, asleep at the wheel. It feels like I’m going to be categorized rather than connected with. I’m not interested in being put in a box. I’m not interested in filling silences with dead, polite words.

If you want your conversations to wake up, try shifting to an entirely different plane:

* How are you feeling right now? (better than “How are you?,” which if asked sincerely is a great question, but for most people is such a throwaway that it’s better to use different language)
* What is your life passion?
* Where do you want to travel that you’ve never been, and what intrigues you about that place?
* What would your life look like if you could design it any way you wanted?
* What is your biggest frustration right now?
* What motivated you to come here today/tonight? What intrigues you about this place/event?

See how quickly each of these questions will get you into a genuinely interesting, deeply connected conversation, even with a stranger?

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About the Author:

Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening

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  1. says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Rewok,

    I appreciate your comment and the chance to clarify, but I feel a bit triggered by the words "you simply miss the fact." You are assuming my intention rather than asking me to clarify.

    I am not proposing my questions as "openers." I actually was thinking of situations where either I already know someone, am introduced through social circle, or am

  3. You simply miss the fact that the list you provided are secondary questions.

    Approaching a woman and asking those questions off the start will off-put most women, because it is socially uncalibrated.

    I do agree – Some questions are better than others.

    But I've noticed most men and women feel the "interview" questions are dull, because they ask them

  4. Anonymous,

    It's true that the "energy" behind the questions is far more important than the questions themselves.

    But words are powerful, and asking questions in a new way can help us get in touch with our own aliveness and authentic curiosity, which will then bring out the aliveness of the other person.

  5. Anonymous says:

    maybe.. what if the "asker" is just a random average Joe with NO passion..

    I bet that if "Joe" met a girl witch by some miracle, accepted his "date invitation" and Joe stars throwing questions like

    "If you could do anything what would you do" and "how would you Design your world"

    the girls would respond just the

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