Want to start a great discussion? Want to get into a great conversation? Want to get to know a person better than you do now? Tired of the same old "blah-blah"? It's actually easy. Just ask!
Small talk by its very definition won't make great conversations. Instead ask a great question. What makes a great question? (Hey! That's a great question!)
Then listen for all you’re worth! Sit back, and be a great audience. Let the silence do its work. Watch the person's mannerisms: Is she nervous? Did the question hit home? Is he smiling or frowning? Defensive or intrigued? Give the person all the time in the world to answer, as well as the freedom to revise or correct or modify what he says on the fly. Even if you disagree with what the person says, nod and be attentive, encouraging her to continue. Whatever you do, don't cut him off, even if his answer upsets you, or is clearly wrong. Don't start to shake your head, or look displeased, or mentally begin to form a rebuttal, because if you do, he'll stop answering and you'll stop listening. Feel free to ask clarifying or follow-up questions, but remember the spotlight is on the one answering. Your role is to listen for all you’re worth.
Great questions can be used diagnostically, helping you understand and get to know another person. Because they open the door to deeper convictions, they are useful in turning the discussion to the Good News of Christ.
TWENTY GREAT QUESTIONS
That said, here are twenty of my favorites (in no particular order) that I keep in my back pocket to pull out when the moment is right:
1. ”Do you think it is possible to get to know God personally? If so, how?”
2. ”Are you happy with your life? What’s missing?”
3. ”What do you imagine God is like?”
4. ”If you died tonight (and I hope you don’t), how certain are you (from 0-100) that you’d go to heaven (if there is one)?”
5. ”What are some of the reasons people don’t go to church? Why do some?”
6. ”Do you think there is a purpose or plan for your life outside anything that you’ve dreamt up? If there was, would you want to know?”
7. ”If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be? How would that make things better?”
8. ”What is holding you back in life right now?”
9. ”What do you wish someone would ask you?”
10. ”If you had a chance, would you like to meet Jesus? Why or why not?”
11. ”What’s the key to understanding the real you that most people miss?”
12. (To anyone in trouble, sick, facing a divorce or grieving over a death:) “Are you afraid?”
13. ”What do you have to offer other people?”
14. ”What is one thing you’d never, ever do?”
15. ”What do you do when your conscience troubles you?”
16. ”If you could live over one day in your life (good or bad), which would it be and why?
17. ”When you die, what would you hope people would say about you?”
18. “You are the President of the College of Life. What’s the first course every entering student must take?”
19. “If there is a God, what do you think is the best evidence of His existence? The most damaging evidence that He doesn’t exist?”
20. “Everyone dies. If you could write the script for how you leave this world, how would it play out?”
These are just a few of the nearly 400 questions in my conversational toolbox I’ve collected over the years and have found intriguing.
By the way, which intrigues you most? And how would you answer it?