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20 Questions to ask instead of "how are you doing right now?"

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My friend Joe Duffy (Award-Winning author of “Being a Supervisor 1.0: A Handbook for the New, Aspiring, and Experienced Supervisor”) recently sent me an article published by Elizabeth Weingarten for Ideas 42.  When I read it, I was reminded how often I start a conversation these days with the typical question, “How are you?” - to which I receive the usual response -  “I’m fine. How are you?”

But the author of this timely piece written in mid-April quickly makes the point that, “When we keep asking the same question, or no questions at all, we lose out on a chance for deeper connections with our conversation partners, who also happens to be the people we care most about. We are tricked into believing we know how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking, when we haven’t even scratched the surface.”

Instead, she goes on to offer 20 different questions that we can draw on that are more thoughtful and insightful than “how are you?”

These questions are specifically designed to go beyond the rote, “how are you?” in order to keep our relationships strong and meaningful during the weeks or months of social distancing and shelter-in-place that still remain ahead. We need to be aware that every word matters and that every interaction is a key touch point. I am sharing the questions with you because I thought they were so intriguing. In fact, you might try answering these yourself!

Here is the list of Weingarten’s 20 questions:

1.      How are you taking care of yourself today?

2.      What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?

3.      What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?

4.      What’s a story – from a book, a movie, an article, a conversation – that you’ve been gripped by recently? Why did it capture you?

5.      What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?

6.      Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?

7.      What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?

8.      What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?

9.      What’s something you own that feels useful?

10.  What is your Covid-19 nickname/alter-ego?

11.  What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?

12.  What’s something that you miss that surprises you? What’s something that you don’t miss that surprises you?

13.  Which member of your family/ friend group have you been thinking about the most during this time? Why?

14.  What’s the most generous act you’ve seen recently?

15.  What’s the last thing you experienced that made you laugh, or cry?

16.  What times of the day or the week are hardest?

17.  What’s giving you hope right now?

18.  What’s the best thing that happened to you today?

19.  How do you want this experience to change you? How do you think it will?

20.  What do you hope we all learn or take away from this experience?

See if this approach works for you and those you are interacting with regularly. Let us know your outcome.