November 13, 2007

Outstanding Question From An Outstanding Mentor

published this at 6:16 am

Guest Post by Alex Shalman

Liz and I go back to about mid-march of 2007. I had just launched a donation contest, and asked Liz to participate. Her initial reaction to the contest was that it was transparent link bait, and she was a bit annoyed. I immediately apologized for offending her, she saw past it, and the rest is history. I now consider Liz one of my best friends, and feel like I’ve known her forever.

As far as mentoring goes, we’ve had quite a few phone conversations, where Liz has been a great listener, as well as given me powerful injections of wisdom. I remember the exact moment when I first heard Liz use this question. It was during live open mic night of SOBCon. Yes, she’s even more amazing in person!

It’s simple:

“What do you do when you’re not doing this?”

I’ve used this very question to start countless conversations, and have been nothing but amazed each time at how people opened up. Whether talking to a new classmate, or even a random person I decided to talk to during my day. It never ceases to amaze me at how much people appreciate when you take an interest.

It also helps to practice the arts of proactive and empathetic listening to dig deeper into the conversation. It’s funny, but most people ask a question, listen to the response, and then go on about themselves.

Experience the outstanding response I’ve been getting with Liz’s magic question. Ask it of a stranger, really listen to what they say, and follow up at least 5 questions deep. You might be amazed just as I have been.

Btw, I would like to hear some other questions that you use to open up conversations with strangers. Let’s all share in the comment box below!

Alex Shalman

Thanks, Alex. The question seems to have served us both well. I’m smiling to think that we have met at the core of the matter where we both agree. . . . I consider you a friend, as well.

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Filed under Motivation, Successful Blog | 11 Comments »


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11 Comments to “Outstanding Question From An Outstanding Mentor”

  1. November 13th, 2007 at 9:50 am
    Shama Hyder said

    My favorite- “Would you like some chocolate?”

  2. November 13th, 2007 at 11:48 am
    Erica Ross-Krieger said

    My favorite opening question is:

    - “What makes your heart sing?”

    And somewhere later in the conversation:

    - “What’s important?”
    or
    - “What question are you living with these days?”

  3. November 13th, 2007 at 1:02 pm
    Advice Network said

    Liz is famous for being compassionate and thoughtful the way John Chow is famous for being evil.

  4. November 13th, 2007 at 10:38 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Shama!
    Great question. I bet you get some great conversation in return! :)

  5. November 13th, 2007 at 10:41 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Erica!
    Great questions every one. I’ve been asked the first. It made a wonderful blog post writing experience. :)

  6. November 13th, 2007 at 10:42 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Ah the Advice Network is lauching. I’m going to be watching.

    Thank you for the lovely statement. I missed Mr. Chow at Blog World Expo. I hear he was there. :)

  7. November 14th, 2007 at 9:15 am
    Ritu said

    My best way to start a conversation with a stranger ” Excuse me, do you know what time it is?” and I go from there ;-).

    It has worked so far

  8. November 14th, 2007 at 9:38 am
    [email protected] said

    Hey Liz, thanks for putting this up, I just noticed it!

    Great questions you guys!

  9. November 14th, 2007 at 9:39 am
    Alex Shalman said

    Hey Liz, thanks for putting this up, I just noticed it!

    Great questions you guys!!

  10. November 14th, 2007 at 9:55 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hey Alex!
    Thank you for writing it. :)

  11. December 21st, 2007 at 7:00 am
    Using Questions To Control Communication - lifehack.org said

    [...] Question (via Liz Strauss). Try these question if you’re unsure of where to [...]

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