Years ago, I was out to dinner with the Chairman of the Board for a client.
At the time, I asked a question to our restaurant waiter that the Chairman found to be unique. The next time I met with the client's Chairman he said to me, "Eugene I've been using your crazy question when my wife and I go out and the stories have been non-stop entertainment, thank you!"
With the new year and new opportunities upon us, we find ourselves in the company of others. Allow me to share a simple question that is anything but boring. The "question" also has a fantastic ability to bring out the best and most humorous responses.
Here's my crazy question (and variation).
If with family and friends:
"What's the most interesting thing you've done since we last spoke?"
If you're out and about at a restaurant (used by the Chairman when out to dinner with his wife):
"What's the most interesting thing that's happened to you while working here?"
I immediately follow up the question with, "please share something funny or interesting, nothing depressing." This helps eliminate 99% of negative responses. Also, you'll have to gauge the personality of the person you're talking to.
In the last 15 years I've used the question(s) above hundreds of times and not a single person has refused to answer. Even better, most of the answers are surprising, inspiring, and laugh out loud hilarious.
In today's non-stop world of tech, something as simple as sharing a story can brighten someone else's day and yours. Give it a whirl and let me know how it works.