The art of communication is crucial in all of our day to day activities. What if we had more meaningful exchanges that make us think?

Universal topics, like “how’s the weather” or “where are you from serve as good ice breakers when you’re getting to know someone.

After you exchange pleasantries, how often do you try to really understand where your conversation is coming from? There is currently a movement that is hosting get togethers with guided questions and a no small talk policy.

To get to know another individual on a deeper level, you will need to relate to them more personally. It’s refreshing to be able to discuss philosophy and important subjects.

Everyone likes to be asked questions about themselves. Encouraging conversation with some of these thought provoking questions will open others up to you. You’ll also get to know them better, and probably help them get to know themselves better too.

We have so many interactions on a surface level. Getting to know another person with profound questions definitely makes a good impression when you’re talking.

Genuine conversations make us happy more than shallow interactions. We benefit in many ways by truly connecting with others.[1]

Kristen Berman and Dan Ariely are co founders of a behavioral consulting non profit called Irrational Labs. Ariel’s is the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University. Wired magazine documented a dinner party they had where small talk was “banned.”[2]

A woman in North Carolina saw a business opportunity in the no small talk trend.

Carolina Gawroński started No Small Talk dinners, in Hong Kong. Guests are told not to use phones, and have index cards with prompts.

Sean Bisceglia holds Jefferson-Style dinner parties, where one person at a time takes turns talking.”I do it because the shallowness of cocktail chitchat kind of drove me crazy. “There was never any conversation deeper than two minutes. I really felt that if we could bring together a group of people, you could get into the issues and hear different people’s perspectives.

Conversation Starters

These 13 conversation starters might find their way to your next dinner party.

  • What’s your story?
  • What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever stolen?
  • What is your present state of mind?
  • What absolutely excites you right now?
  • What book has influenced you the most?
  • If you could do anything you wanted tonight (anywhere, for any amount of money), what would you do and why?
  • If you had the opportunity to meet one person you haven’t met who would it be, why and what would you talk about?
  • What’s the most important thing I should know about you?
  • What do you value more, intelligence or common sense?
  • What movie is your favorite guilty pleasure, and why?
  • You are stuck on a deserted island, and you can only take three things. What would they be?
  • When and where were you happiest in your life?
  • What do you think is the driving force in your life? [4]

 What other questions can you think of? They can be funny, profound or another that really inspires connection.

References:

  • Eavesdropping on Happiness: Well-Being Is Related to Having Less Small Talk and More Substantive Conversations, Matthias R. Mehl, Simine Vazire, Shannon E. Holleran, C. Shelby Clark, Association for Psychological Science, February 18, 2010
  • Small talk should be banned, Kristen Bergman, Dan Ariely, Wired, September 21, 2016
  • At these dinner parties, no small talk allowed, LISA ARNETT, Chicago Business, August 4, 2016
  • Science Discovered That Banning Small Talk from Your Conversations Makes You Happier (Try Asking These 13 Questions Instead), Marcel Schwantes, INC
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