“Great weather today, huh?”
“Did you catch that game last night?”
“Have a good weekend?
Small talk usually starts with small questions. It’s not that we should never converse about the weather, sports, or weekend plans, but too often that’s as far as we go. Sometimes it’s necessary to keep the conversation light. We don’t want to seem like we’re prying. Sometimes we don’t have the time for a lengthy conversation. And there are times when it’s just out of place to probe into issues that are too personal. But if our conversations always stay surface level, especially with those to whom we are closest, we lose out.
When time permits (or when you make the time) consider asking questions like these –
What has the Lord been teaching you lately?
What burdens are you taking to God in prayer?
What’s really challenging your patience lately?
How are you seeing God at work in your family?
What book are you reading right now?
What podcasts are you listening to lately?
What has you excited about life?
Is there something going on in your life that I can pray about?
How has your life changed in the past year?
What brings the the biggest joy in life?
What is one thing you’d really like to do in the next five years?
How have you seen God work in your family?
What is your greatest challenge at work/school?
If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead), who would they be? Why?
What individual has had the greatest impact on your life?
What book (other that the Bible) has been most impactful in your life?
What is your favorite movie? Why?
What social cause are you most passionate about?
I’m not suggesting that these are questions to ask when you’ve just met someone, but if you truly want to get to know people then at some point you’ll need to ask deeper questions – and be willing to answer questions like these. I wouldn’t suggest asking them all at one sitting, but as you spend time with an older child, a parent or grandparent, a spouse, a good friend, a prayer partner, a mature believer, etc., make sure you’re asking questions that lead to deeper conversations. You’ll very likely be amazed at what you learn about the person sitting across from you. You may even gain some wisdom and insight that makes you better.
Admittedly, these are only a few options. Questions need to be tailored to the relationship and situation. As you get to know someone better, you may find that you’re asking questions about their life decisions and what consequences they have faced. An answered question may lead to a follow-up question that reveals even more truth. The reality is – if you want a deeper connection eventually you’ll have to ask deeper questions.
Before you begin, however, take time to ask yourself these same questions. If you’re unwilling to open up with yourself, then you’ll find it very hard to get someone else to open up to you – or to even be concerned at that other person at all.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”