Have you noticed? It's summer! It's the time of year when we dust off the backyard with friends and linger late into the night. There are so many great conversations I remember around a flickering fire, and I'm looking forward to more this year. But good conversations don't always come easy, so here are a few tips to get into the kind of convos you'll remember for years. Friendship comes from your shared experience, and this type of depth helps to bring it all together. I know having a set of questions queued up for your guests feels a bit strange, but just take a few and have them ready to go if the silence gets too long. The key to a deep conversation is to ask the type of questions that are open ended and invite a story. Be ready to reciprocate with answers yourself. A finger of good whiskey helps to keep that conversation rolling too. And if you're not sitting 'round the fire, these work great for a long hike or road trip.
1. Tell me about a time you were terrified? – This is a pretty deep question. It can bring up a jarring memory and open up a huge door to conversations on life, kids, health, sometimes loss. You'll come through this question with a lot of depth on them.
2. What has been the happiest day in your life? – Again, this question really encourages depth, but comes with a bright side. Sometimes people really open up on this, other times it may be harder to answer this one. Let it flow wherever it leads.
3. What does 10 years down the road look for you? – I always like to encourage people to dream, and a question like this makes it happen. This is the kind of question you really should focus on, don't fade off while they let you in on where they want this life to lead them.
4. What are you most excited about in your life right now? – I absolutely love this question. It's the one they were hoping you would ask all night and gives them the opportunity to let you in on what is happening without sounding like an attention-grabbing loudmouth.
5. What would you do with four hours of free time? – I have a list of things I wish I could do. It's that short but important list that never seems to happen, but really wakes me up when I finally get out there. This is where you learn about passions, hobbies, and what makes someone feel human again. For me, it's camping in a hammock, a paddleboard session at my local lake, and a fly-fishing session wherever I can find some fish.
6. What would someone say they liked about you? – I guarantee it's easier to talk to someone about what they're doing wrong, or what they think can be improved. But this question is more about building up the spirit again and reminding them about what they're good at. Take some time on this one, and let people see the good in themselves.
7. Who would you call your greatest mentor? – This one brings up some interesting history. I like it as a reminiscing conversation piece that opens up a back-story of where they came from. I always expected coaches and dads on this one, but actually people have a huge range of those that inspire them.
So, the next time you're nursing a good drink with good friends, take a bit of time to really get to know what makes them tick. You'll come out more connected, entertained, and a bit closer to your friends.