What's Your Back Pocket Question

I am a naturally curious person. I ask a lot of questions. Some might say that makes me a good coach (or a tad annoying if you are a teenager who lives with me!). One thing I enjoy is learning more about others. 

This weekend I attended a work conference at a resort in MN, where the weather was just as beautiful as the scenery. As I was prepping for the conference, wondering which outfits I would need, what I could do with any downtime (I always plan for a ton of downtime which almost NEVER happens!), I also thought about what I wanted to learn while there.

Beyond the typical professional things, I needed to learn, I knew I needed an inspiring ‘back pocket’ question to help me learn about the people I would meet. My back-pocket questions are things I can ask when engaging in conversation with those I don’t know or don’t know very well. In case the conversation is stalled OR something I may be curious about.

This is the third year I have been at this conference. The first year, I walked around like a deer in the headlights. I didn’t know the role I was in (board director) nor did I really know anyone at the event. Thinking back, I am certain the questions I asked were more about the logistics of the weekend than anything memorable. I probably stumbled on what I was saying and lacked any confidence in my non-verbal’s.

Now that I know the lay of the land and how the weekend goes, I decided to ask a question to anyone new that I met that would not only inspire me but get me to learn more about them. “What do you love most about your job. That was it.

A simple question to ask but the answer tells a lot to me about the other person. I am fascinated by the work others do, but more importantly what they love about it. I paid attention to not only the answer, but how the people lit up when asked that question. It inspired me. Those that struggled when asked made me curious about why they felt that way. The question led to longer conversations about the why’s, how’s and challenges that came with their jobs. Especially those in roles or in organizations I didn’t know much about. 

Being curious and asking others questions, even simple ones, can give you great insight if you are looking for it. Do you notice when the persons tone of voice says one thing but their body language or even their facial expressions say something completely different. Maybe their excitement or energy is contagious and you engage in a deeper conversation than you planned. 

Next time you find yourself in a social environment, like a networking event, plan you 'back pocket question' in advance and see what you can learn about others. Be curious of others. Learn from them and show genuine interest. It can go a long way and you may just learn something interesting! 

To your continued growth, development, and amazing potential,