10 Good Getting To Know Someone Questions
By Danni Peck
Updated January 16, 2019
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
Sometimes it is hard to get to know people. It can be difficult to know what to say or what is appropriate to talk about. It can be especially tough if you struggle with talking to people. Many people are quite capable of telling their life stories with little, to no, prompting. So a first recommendation when you want to get to know others better is simply to indicate that you are available, and interested. Basically, this involves taking a more subtle option, to attempt to encourage others to take the initiative to self-disclose. This can be especially helpful for those who are pretty introverted, shy, or struggle with any forms of social anxiety. For instance, you can practice just looking others in the eye, and smiling. Some people need very little encouragement to open up! Eye contact is a very powerful way of indicating that we are tuning in to the other person, and want to hear what they have to say. Then, be sure to provide additional evidence of your on-going, rapt attention. This can include the periodic head-nod/shake; or very non-intrusive comments like 'yes,' 'really?!,' 'sounds frustrating,' etc. If the other person seems to slow down in what they are sharing, a next step in your own non-directive encouragements can be something like 'tell me more about that….'
Great communication really involves far more listening than speaking, doesn't it?! We have two ears and one mouth. Most of our relationships would benefit from our use of them proportionately. So while you are implementing the very quiet, indirect, strategies mentioned above, you can up the ante a bit by summarizing periodically and asking completely open questions. A great summary should be often enough in the conversation to allow you to really capture everything the other person has shared to that point, and should be in your own words. Summaries which literally parrot back, or mimic, exactly what the other person has said illustrate that you are listening, but not necessarily that you actually understand. A summary in your own words does both.
When you genuinely want to understand another person, it is best to not 'take control' of the conversation by asking closed, or leading questions. A closed question allows for only certain answers. For instance, 'Were you angry or scared?' is a closed question, because it suggests that the only acceptable answers are one of those two options. Asking a 'yes' or 'no' question is also a closed question; because it allows for only one of those responses. Finally, once we are past the age of about 4, we really want to avoid all 'why' questions. This is because only young children ask genuine 'shy questions…like 'why is the sky blue.' As adults, most of our 'why' questions are actually statements in disguise, which end with a judgment. For instance, if I ask my spouse 'why did you do it like that?!' What I likely mean is 'Don't you know there is a better way to do that, dummy?!!'
Genuine, high quality, open questions, basically begin with 'who,' 'what,' 'how,' 'when,' or 'where.' Here are some examples:
'Who was with you when that happened?'
'What had you hoped would occur in that situation?'
'How would you like us to proceed?'
'When were you planning to inform her?'
'Where would you love to visit?'
Open questions are a really great way to encourage the other person to continue telling their story, without meaningful interruptions from us. Not only are these strategies a great way to encourage others to talk, they are a really excellent way to help increase mutual understanding and reduce misunderstanding and conflict.
When you first meet someone and want to get to know them better, there are some great questions you can ask to get encourage them to open up. Some of the best questions to ask include, but are definitely not limited to the following:
Which of The Five Senses Could You Live Without and Why?
While this may seem like a strange question, it is a good way to tell what kind of person you are talking to. Make sure you give them time to think about it because this is a big question. Think about what your answer would be. It is not an easy choice. This answer can actually reveal something the speaker may not even know about themselves. Each of us tend to learn in a primary manner. Those primary manners include audio, visual or kinesthetic. We tend to reveal this characteristic by how we express ourselves and what we choose. For instance, audio learners tend to prefer listening to the radio, or listening to audio books, over reading. Visual learners prefer reading a textbook to listening to a lecture, or they at least want notes in front of them as they listen to a speaker. Kinesthetic learners need to be more actively, physically, involved. They prefer role-plays, or may take copious notes that they never read later. It is the act of writing the notes that helps inform their learning! So a person's response to this question may reveal far more about themselves than they even realize.
If You Could Have One Super Power, What Would It Be and What Would You Do with It?
The answer to this can tell you how the other person thinks and what they think is important. If they say they would like to be invisible so they can rob a bank, hopefully they are kidding. Our primary values define us. This question will illuminate something about the other person's values.
What is Your Greatest Achievement?
A question like this should be a prerequisite to every job and relationship. The answer to this question will tell you a lot about another person. The response to this question will likely also reveal the other person's self-confidence, self-esteem, or ego; all of which can be pretty important in meaningful relationships. You might want to think about what your answer to this question would be.
What Animal Is Most Like You and Why?
The answer to this question may be silly and fun or serious and thoughtful. Either way, talk about it and what the reason for the answer means. Share your answer as well.
If You Knew You Were Going to be on a Deserted Island, What Three Items Would You Take with You?
This kind of question can tell you if this person is practical, sentimental, or just clueless.
At what do you really excel?
Most people have one thing that they feel they can do really well such as writing, building things, and computer programming. However, this question encourages them to put some real thought into their answer, and this would also help you see how they perceive themselves.
What Is on Your Bucket List?
The answers to this question can tell you what a person's goals and motivations are and what they really want to do at least once. It's also a good way to see if you have any common interests. It may also reveal what they have not taken the initiative to yet do in their life, which could reveal something about their pragmatism versus their adventurousness.
Of What Are You Afraid?
Everyone has fears but most people do not like to talk about them. This question may seem a bit intrusive if you are just meeting someone but sometimes it is easier talking to a stranger.
Would You Rather Walk or Ride?
This is a question to see if they are into exercise or not and that is something you should be interested in if you are going to spend time together. For example, if you hate exercise you may not want to be with someone who likes to walk everywhere they go.
Describe Your Perfect Day?
Knowing what they would really like to be doing will give you some insight into whether or not you have common interests. With someone you are considering as a potential romantic partner, the answer to this question could be very informative as to how complimentary you are to each other.
Social Anxiety Disorder
If you find yourself getting anxious when you are in public or when you try to talk to someone, you may have a social anxiety disorder. SAD affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder.
The best thing to do if you feel you may have a social anxiety disorder is to talk to a mental health professional. If you are not ready to talk to someone in person or just do not have the time, there are over 2,000 licensed professionals to take your call or message online at BetterHelp.com. You do not need a referral or an appointment, just answer a few questions and you can get started now.