A Better Question to Start a Conversation

I don’t go out as much as an average 25 year old probably would. As a result, I spend a lot of my time with myself and don’t usually see people that frequently. So whenever there’s an occasional meet-up with friends or acquaintances, they rush to ask me one simple question so as to begin the conversation:

‘What are you up to these days?’/’What’s happening in life?’ /’What’s new?’/’How’s life?’

On the surface, these questions seem pretty simple- the asker just wants to make a conversation and what better way to start by asking us what we’ve been up to. However, if you delve a little deeper, these sort of questions may often make us anxious about what to reply. Why? Because these questions are characteristic of the asker’s presumption that something noteworthy must have been going on in our lives.The truth, however, remains that most chapters of our lives pass in pretty ordinary and mundane ways.

For someone like me who invariably has a very dull reply to these set of inevitable questions, I’ve come to think of an alternative. Instead of asking such anxiety inducing questions, a better way to start a conversation could be to ask: ‘What have you been thinking lately?’ Given how majority of the population suffers from over-thinking, the answers may well be interesting to spark a great conversation. Depending on the level of comfort we share and the context we are in, we can open ourselves up (and expect the other person to do the same) about what has been going on in our heads lately.

If our intentions are to make other people feel comfortable, it definitely is worth contemplating over the type of questions we ask and the consequent feelings we induce through them.

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