Right now, the most popular conversation starter is probably coronavirus. The same conversations, especially about stressful events can feel overwhelming. No matter who you are speaking with, you can reframe the conversation. The pandemic is likely to come up, but you can control what you talk about if you want to have a normal conversation outside topics that may cause even more stress. We all want to be informed about what’s happening but in difficult times, you can still have a normal conversation. “When discussion about the coronavirus comes up, use it as a springboard to steer the conversation back to the person and how he or she is adapting to this new normal,” Diane Gottsman, modern manners and etiquette expert told the New York Times. There are tons of ways to make a normal conversation great. Here are 7 powerful questions you can ask your friends, family and co-workers in your next conversation — whether in person or in a video conversation. Some of these questions can spark stories, bring out the best in others, trigger genuine conversation … and hopefully, help you to feel more deeply connected to the people close to you or someone you haven’t seen in a while. 1. What are you most grateful for, right now, in this moment? This question can help you notice and talk about the good things in your life instead of focusing on everything wrong you can’t control. You can use it to talk about the highlight of the week or day that made you feel better or relaxed. In times of crisis, we can still find the good things in life that can help us feel better. Start off your conversations by talking about the more happy events and experiences in life. 2. Working on any exciting personal project lately? It’s an alternative to “what are you doing?” This question can help the other person talk about something new they are excited about as opposed to just giving you the same update about their work or life. People love to share what they care about. Find ways to make them talk about their passion projects. Most people have an awesome side hustle and they will happily talk about the progress they are making. 3. What’s working well for you right now? One way to change the energy from negative to positive in a conversation is to focus on the good things in life and career. An alternative question is — How are you taking care of yourself right now? Use this question to talk about ways to improve your lives and get over the hurdles (you control) that stand in the way of a good life. Be curious and ask reflective or follow-up questions about what they enjoy doing right now. 4. What shows, podcasts, or books are you making time for right now? Many of us are spending a lot of time at home at the moment. In the golden age of streaming and remote work, you will be surprised at the things you have in common with the other person. What people do in their downtime can be great conversation starters. You could go on and on about interesting things you love to do when you are relaxing. 5. What do you do to get rid of stress? In difficult times, people can easily get stressed. Everyone deals with it differently. You can both share you how you are dealing with the dozens of things on your mind and coping mechanisms. 6. What would be your perfect weekend? There will be plenty to talk about when you ask this question. The other person is likely to talk about what they do on a normal weekend, what they wish they could do, and what would do on their perfect weekend. Once you know what they are into, and you’ll have plenty to talk about. 7. What are you looking forward to in the future? This question can help people reflect on what they want to do differently in life and career when they get the chance. You can use it to talk about life and career goals and what you can do to make that all-important change.
These are unprecedented times. “How are you doing?” may not be a great conversation starter. Whether on a video call with a friend or colleague, there are better conversation starters you can use to talk about anything but the coronavirus. Dive into a deeper dialogue connect deeper and meaningfully with the people you care about and those you work with.
The article was published by Thomas Oppong in Medium.