How can I use questions to develop friendships?
One key to beginning and building friendships is the ability to ask good questions. By learning to use questions as tools for getting to know others, you’ll learn to be at ease during conversations.
Discern the appropriateness of a question by considering the circumstances of your meeting and the level of your friendship. When meeting a new acquaintance, ask general questions that refer to public knowledge about the individual, such as details about his family, work, and educational background. If the friendship deepens, it will become appropriate to ask more specific questions about his experiences and goals in life.
If you are skilled in developing good questions, you won’t have to worry about what you are going to say. You’ll be free to concentrate on what the other person shares and then ask more questions to sustain the conversation.
The following questions are offered as suggestions. When you ask these questions or similar ones, others will come to mind.
General Questions to Ask an Acquaintance
- Where does your family live?
- Have you lived in many different places?
- How many brothers and sisters do you have?
- In the birth order of your family, where do you fit in (first-born, second-born, etc.)?
- Do you know the meaning of your name?
- What does your father do for a living?
- Where did your parents (grandparents) grow up?
- What are some of your family’s traditions?
- Do you know much about your family heritage?
- What school do (or did) you attend?
- What course are (or were) you studying?
- What is (or was) your favorite subject?
- Where do you work?
- Do you enjoy it?
- What other job experiences have you had?
- What church do you attend?
- How long have you been connected with this church?
- Does your whole family attend church?
- In what Christian activities have you been involved?
- What are some of the hobbies you have?
- What sports do you enjoy?
- Do you play any musical instruments?
- What are some of the organizations to which you belong?
- Do you like to read books? What are some of your favorites?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
- Where were you born?
- Where did you grow up?
- During your childhood, did you move often?
Specific Questions to Ask a Casual or Close Friend
- What is your happiest childhood memory?
- How did your parents choose the name they gave you?
- What do you think is the most important factor in having a happy family (or marriage)?
- What do you most appreciate about each of your siblings?
- With which brother or sister do you enjoy the closest relationship?
- Would you have enjoyed being part of a larger or smaller family? Why?
- Do your parents have special wishes for your life?
- What were the childhood goals of your parents for their own lives?
- As children, what church did your parents attend?
- How did your parents become Christians?
- What do you think is most important in life?
- When you reach the end of your life, what do you want to look back on and say that you have accomplished?
- How did you happen to get interested in your present work?
- If you could have one wish fulfilled right now, what would it be?
- What do you think God’s purpose was in making you? What were the events that led up to your becoming a Christian? (His answer may reveal the need to explain salvation to him.)
- God gives each Christian a spiritual gift. Do you know what yours is?
- Have you ever dedicated your life to God?
- What do you see as the greatest difficulty in living the Christian life?
- What has been the most difficult experience that you have had in your life so far?
As you ask questions, you’ll have a fascinating opportunity to learn more about your friends—their family heritage, interests, goals, and experiences. Listen attentively to each response. Pray for your friends as the Lord makes you aware of needs in their lives.