Monday, May 7, 2018

33 Questions to Help You Overcome Shyness--So You Can Be Awesome at Networking, Speed-Dating, Mingling or Schmoozing

I've got a confession to make: Inside this seemingly confident, frequent-public-speaking, supposedly outgoing CEO exterior is a very shy introvert.

As long as I've got a job to do (facilitate a planning session, advise a client), I'm perfectly comfortable in front of even a large group of people. But put me in an unstructured setting--like a networking event or a cocktail party--and I'd rather wash dirty plates than mingle.

Since my role requires me to put myself out there, I've adopted a technique that helps overcome my anxiety. That technique is simple: As soon as I'm introduced to someone, I ask one to three really good questions.

As readers of this column know, I'm a big fan of asking questions. After all, the Greek philosopher Socrates knew that questions are more engaging than providing information. And leadership coach Bill Bliss writes that "Questions allow us to learn and grow, connect with people, challenge our beliefs, improve the performance of our team, and develop better ideas."

But my secret reasons for using questions to break the ice are: A) Doing so is way more interesting than chit-chatting about the weather; B) Asking questions makes me confident that I am making an impression (and not just saying the same thing as everyone else); and C) Questions put the spotlight on the other person (which helps me manage my discomfort).

Want to try this technique? Here are 33 questions to choose from:

Blast from the past

1. What was your first job?

2. Who was your idol when you were growing up?

3. What your first experience with a theme or amusement park?

4. What was the first concert you went to?

All about you

5. How do you kick back and relax?

6. What's your most unique hobby?

7. What genre of music helps you do your best work?

8. Where's the most memorable place you've traveled to?

9. How do you most like to spend a free weekend?

10. What's something you bought recently that you're really happy with?

What's your favorite?

11. What's your favorite recent movie--and why?

12. What's your favorite color--and why?

13. What lunchtime meal would you prefer to eat--and why?

14. What's a flavor of ice cream you love but never order--and why?

15. What's a word that just makes you happy every time you hear it--and why?

16. What's your favorite song from a genre you don't usually listen to--and why?

17. What travel destination would you most like to visit next--and why?

18. What is your spirit animal--and why?

Professionally speaking

19. What achievement are you most proud of this year?

20. What's one important lesson you've learned since you've been in your current job?

21. What's one piece of advice would you give to someone who just joined your company or team?

22. What is the project you're most looking forward to working on this year?

Let's get personal

23. What gets you out of bed every morning?

24. What's one thing no one knows about you?

25. If you were to choose another profession, what would it be?

26. What scares you?

27. What can you do that most others can't?

28. What are three things you can't live without?

If. . .

29. If I could share dinner with anyone (alive or dead), who would it be?

30. You just found a genie. What's your first wish?

31. If you could live in another country, where would you live?

32. If you could live inside a television show, which would it be?

33. If you had only one day left on earth, what would you do first?

Image Credit: Getty Images

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