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In the previous lesson, you learned about the Pyramid of Relationship Building and how learning how to take the initiative and show courage to elevate the conversation from the traditional small talk stage to meaningful dialogue will usually inspire others to join in.

As noted earlier, meaningful dialogue involves any conversation where there is learning and growth and one in which you get to see persons in a different light as a result of elevating the level of the conversation.

It is actually easier to inspire meaningful dialogue in a group setting, especially one in which you already know some of the people in the group. 

Thought-Provoking Questions

Here are a series of some of the thought-provoking questions we’ve used as well as some which have been used by other groups who have embraced the NetWeaving concept and which have been shared with Bob:

  • If you had to name someone – other than a parent, grandparent, or spouse – such as a mentor, a teacher – elementary, high school, or college, a boss – whether you loved or hated him/her – who at some important point in your life, did or said something which really had an impact – who would that have been and what was it that he or she did or said that had such a strong influence on you
  • What was the lowest point in your business life and career, and what did you do to pull yourself back up?” “In so doing, what did you learn about yourself?
  • Who is someone – a business, political or military leader or anyone of historical significance whom you most admire and why?
  • What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction book and why?
  • If money were no object and you could be doing anything you’d really want to be doing, what would it be and why?
  • If you could go back in time and do a 60 minute interview with anyone, who would it be and why?”
  • If you could look down at your own funeral and summarize what you hoped others might be describing about your own life, what would you hope people would be saying?”
  • What is your favorite quote?
  • What personality trait do you most admire in someone…  the trait you most dislike?
  • What was best vacation you ever took?  Where did you go and why was it so enjoyable?  Did you find any secret places which were really remarkable?
  • What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in life to date?
  • Describe what a PERFECT day for you would look like.
  • How would your friends describe you?  Is that how you would describe yourself?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? What about any weaknesses?
  • Within the last year, what have you done or been involved with that has given you the greatest personal satisfaction?
  • What can you count on for a good laugh or to cheer you up? (Or) When you feel like you need a good laugh, what do you do?

In an individual conversation with someone you have just met for the first time, many of the above questions might be too personal before you’ve gotten to know the person a little better. Bob likes to use a method he calls Global – Local – Personal.

Assume you and Bob have just met at a conference which both of you are attending and the two of you are having your very first conversation. 

Global – We’ve ‘broken the ice’ with a little small talk, and I say, “(Name), you indicated you are in the ____________ industry.  If you had to point out the 2 or 3 major challenges your industry is facing today, what would they be?” (Let the person answer). 

Local – “Are those the same challenges and issues that your own company is dealing with, or have you somehow found a way to overcome or get around them?” (Let the person answer).

Personal – “Very interesting, and on your own level and taking into consideration your own responsibilities within your company, do you find yourself wrestling with some of those same issues on a daily basis?”  (Let the person answer).

Whether in a group setting or an individual one, inspiring persons to elevate the conversation to ‘meaningful dialogue’ also tends to elevate your own image in other’s eyes as they see you as a ‘thought leader’ and someone who isn’t afraid to take some risk.