Wednesday, February 24, 2010

dinner chat

We're hosting a "dinner for 8" on Saturday. We love having company. There's just something about having interesting people to our home for conversation that I enjoy. In particular I like this format because first of all, I like food, but secondly, it's a somewhat random group so I get to meet new people, folks I might not have otherwise taken time to get to know.

Anyway, I ran across this interesting post on how to have better dinner conversations. Here are some of the conversational points:

Ask open-ended questions. As the hosts, Gail and I have a singular goal: we try to ask interesting questions. We try to make these questions open-ended, so that people must elaborate and give us some insight into them as a person. For example,
  • What is your idea of a perfect vacation?
  • If you could design your ideal job, what would it look like?
  • What is the best book you have read in the last 12 months and why?
  • What is the most important lesson you learned from your father?
  • What is your very favorite thing about your spouse?
  • If you were by yourself, and could listen to any music you want, what it be?
  • If you could spend a day with anyone on the planet, who would it be?
  • What it is like to be your friend? or to be married to you?
  • If you were suddenly the President of the U.S., what would you do first?
  • Looking back over your life, what would you describe as your proudest moment?
Ask a second question. The most interesting conversations come after the initial answer. It takes extraordinary discipline to refrain from answering your own question and, instead. answer a second question. Yet this is where the deepest conversations occur. I like to ask questions like these as follow-up questions:
  • How did it feel when that happened?
  • Can you elaborate on that?
  • Why do you think that is important to you?
  • Do you think you would have answered the same way five years ago?
  • What emotion do you feel when you describe that?

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