A reader and former NYU collaborator sent me this article from Fast Company under their “Leadership” heading: “27 Questions To Ask Instead Of “What Do You Do?” She knows my passion for effective and meaningful conversation, making people feel comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities, and supporting them on things they care about.
Longtime readers will remember how I disparage “So what do you do?” as a leach that saps passion from conversation in favor of boring small talk that, by not risking hitting a vulnerability, avoids hitting what the person cares about. In my post “How to stop boring everyone you meet” I describe alternatives.
My favorite conversation starter is “What’s your passion?”, which many people push back on. I read their concern as coming from fear. If it happens in a workshop, I have them practice my Meaningful Connection exercise, which puts the practice in context. Once they do it, they realize how easy and effective it is.
I often ask If you canâ€™t say the word â€˜passion,â€™ how do you expect to create it in your life?. My post “â€œPassionlessâ€ people?” illustrates how people fear talking about passions so much they conclude they don’t have passions. It’s hard to think of something more sad.
Anyway, Fast Company’s article lists ways to start conversations besides leaching it of energy from the start with “What do you do?”. Number one on the list:
What are you most passionate about?
For good measure number twenty:
What cause are you passionate about?
So there you have it. A top magazine that according to Wikipedia “focuses on technology, business, and design,” meaning it caters to geeks, meaning people without great social skills, recommends asking about passions.
Since you only start relationships once each, you never need to use more than one question.