People greatly overestimate how awkward it will be to hold a “deep” conversation with someone they don’t know well, and routinely underestimate how much other people care about us and what’s on our minds
How to have better conversations with people you barely know — Quartz at Work
The secret to having more meaningful conversations
Twenty prompts for better conversations
During the study, which appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, participants were given conversation prompts ranked according to how intimate they were perceived to be. At the shallow end of the pool was “What do you think about the weather today?” At the more probing end of the spectrum, strangers asked each other questions like, “Can you describe a time you cried in front of another person?”
Here’s the complete list of prompts:
“Shallow” questions, listed in order of ascending intimacy
- What do you think about the weather today?
- How often do you come here?
- How did you celebrate last Halloween?
- How often do you get your hair cut? Where do you go? Have you ever had a really bad haircut experience?
- What is the best TV show you’ve seen in the last month?
- When was the last time you walked for more than an hour? Describe where you went and what you saw.
- Do you like to get up early or stay up late?
- Do you have anything planned for later today? When are you going to do it?
- Can you describe a conversation you had with another person earlier today?
- What’s your daily routine like?