Whether seeking suggestions from an artificial intelligence like ChatGPT or interacting with fellow humans, the power of prompts cannot be understated. The questions we ask and the way we frame them directly impact the responses we receive. This holds true for human intelligence and connection as much as it does for AI.

Imagine walking up to someone and casually asking, “How are you?” The likely response would be a short, perhaps curt, “Fine” or “Good.” However, a slight variation like, “How have you been today?” narrows the focus and demands a more considered reply.

Discovering The Art Of Conversation Starters

A potent conversation starter might be, “What is one of your favorite topics of conversation?” Such a question delves deeper, granting insight into a person’s passions and interests. When posed to someone typically shy, allowing them some time to contemplate can lead to a revealing discussion.

For those interested in diving deeper into the world of conversation starters, there’s a set I recommend: We! Connect Cards. And no, this isn’t a sales pitch. You can actually get a free printable version. Drawing from extensive research, including a peer-reviewed academic paper, these questions are specifically designed to foster trust and connection.

The Journey Behind Crafting The Questions

While in grad school, I embarked on a mission to fine-tune 60 specific questions to cultivate an atmosphere of belonging and connection. This involved the “traffic light method.” Using red, yellow, and green papers, I tested these questions on hundreds of participants over two years. Participants were asked to categorize each question: red for unfavorable, yellow for acceptable but needing tweaks, and green for excellent.

Through repeated testing, the number of reds dwindled, leaving mostly green and a few yellows.

Tailoring The Conversation To Your Needs

Although the We! Connect Cards are effective, it’s essential to remember that the best conversation starters might be those specific to your group’s context. Using blank cards, you can invite members to jot down questions tailored to your group’s objectives. However, without the rigorous vetting process the We! Connect Cards underwent, you might end up with less effective questions.

A unique aspect of the We! Connect deck is its adaptability. For instance, “What is one of your favorite topics of conversation?” can be tailored to, “What is one of your favorite topics of conversation related to gem mining?”

Getting Your Hands On The Cards

For those interested in acquiring a set of the We! Connect Cards, there’s a free printable version available. You can also use them right on your device using our We! Connect Cards app.

In conclusion, conversation starters are powerful tools, but they must be carefully crafted to be effective. So, the next time you’re looking to strike up a conversation, remember the importance of asking the right question.