October 23, 2019

According to Harvard Business Review, “we’ve all been in the awkward situation of meeting someone new and having to build rapport quickly – at networking events, industry conferences, charity events, etc.  You probably break the awkward silence with this standard question: ‘So, what do you do?’”

But that question might not be the best way to build rapport. In fact, it may be best to avoid talking about work entirely.

Research findings from the world of network science and psychology suggest that we prefer and seek out relationships where there is more than one context for connection with another person. So, try breaking the ice with these non-work-related questions recommended by the Harvard Business Review:

  1. What excites you right now?
  2. What are you looking forward to?
  3. What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?
  4. Where did you grow up?
  5. What do you do for fun?
  6. Who is your favorite superhero?
  7. Is there a charitable cause you support?
  8. What’s the most important thing I should know about you?

Regardless of which question you choose, the important thing is to ask a question open-ended enough to allow others to select non-work answers if they choose.

SOURCE: hbr.org, 1/30/18