Turn small talk into real talk.
By Macaela Mackenzie and Lindsay Geller
Sometimes, you meet someone, and you just click. You feel like you’ve been besties your entire life and honestly can’t believe there was a time when you didn’t even know they existed. And then, there’s those other relationships that take a little more work—i.e., how it feels like pulling teeth to learn anything about your brother-in-law. While you might never be BFFs with your BIL, there is a trick you can use to get him to open up a little more.
Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, says getting to know someone starts with the “breadth questions”—think: impersonal but important biographical info like where someone is from, where they work, if they’re single or married, etc.
But if you really want to get to know someone beyond the surface level, you’ve got to dig deeper. “Topics that get at the other person’s inner world—their thoughts, goals and dreams—will strengthen and increase bonding between two people,” Orbuch says. “Just like in a romantic relationship, sharing personal information strengthens the relationship—deeper questions focus on that personal self-disclosure.”
Move past the small talk ASAP, and ask these 200 questions instead. (Let’s do this in bite-sized chunks. No need to rush with all 200.)
“Asking someone about their preferences helps you to understand who they are as a person,” says Rebecca Hendrix, a therapist in New York. The important thing here is to go deeper by asking follow-up questions.
For example, “if you find out they like dogs, take it a bit deeper by asking them what they like most about their dog,” Hendrix explains. “In answering, they are revealing a little more about themselves.” Some other ideas:
1. What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?
2. What type of music are you into?
3. What was the best vacation you ever took and why?
4. Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why?
5. What are your hobbies, and how did you get into them?
6. What was your favorite age growing up?
7. Was the last thing you read digitally or in print?
8. Would you say you’re more of an extrovert or an introvert?
9. What’s your favorite ice cream topping?
10. What was the last show you binge-watched?
11. Are you into podcasts or do you only listen to music?
12. Do you have a favorite holiday? Why or why not?
13. What’s your “Death Row Meal“?
14. Do you like going to the movies or prefer watching at home?
15. What’s your favorite sleeping position?
16. What’s your go-to guilty pleasure?
17. In the summer, would you rather sleep with the window open or blast the AC?
18. What’s your favorite quote from a TV show/movie/book?
19. How old were you when you had your first celebrity crush, and who was it?
20. What’s one thing that can instantly make your day better?
21. Do you have any pet peeves?
22. Which meal is your favorite: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
23. What song always gets you out on the dance floor?
24. When you were a kid, did you eat the crusts on your sandwich or not?
25. What activity instantly calms you?
26. Ideally, how would you spend your birthday?
27. What do you do on your commute to/from work?
28. Do you have a favorite type of exercise?
29. What’s your favorite season and why?
32. Would you rather cook or order in?
33. Have your ever disliked something and then changed your mind?
34. What’s your favorite board game?
35. How do you take your coffee?
36. What’s your most prized possession and why?
37. Is there any product that you couldn’t live without?
38. Do you sleep with a top sheet? Why or why not?
39. If you could have any exotic animal as a pet, which would it be?