49 Questions to Ask — Instead of ‘What Do you Do?”

A writer on Medium shared how they are putting on a party that plays with the social contracts we silently obey, to create a new circumstance and awareness for human connection that reaches beyond the “what do you do” question.

The new agreements are tea instead of alcohol, contribution instead of money, deep convo instead of work talk, and human connection instead of screen time.

This event series came out of my frustration with San Francisco a never ending barrage of ‘networking’ [WHAT DO YOU DO?] nomenclature that makes me want to shut down, throw a tantrum, and run.   At the end of a ‘What do you do?’ convo, I often feel stuck, annoyed, and plagued with dissatisfaction.

If all we talk about is our work, we miss the big stuff — like life philosophy, beliefs, cheeky family stories, college antidotes, fears, vulnerabilities, successes, and our current state of heart and mind.

We’ve productized ourselves to the maximum — so much so that we’ve become the products of production.

Let’s take back our power. Let’s make abiding eye contact. Let’s drop the idea that connecting is too intimate and will be taken the wrong way. Let’s instead, ask meaningful, provocative, and open ended questions. Let’s see and be seen. This is where magic happens.

Here are 49 questions to play with — instead of “What do you do?”

  1. What’s been on your mind lately?
  2. What are your two biggest insecurities?
  3. What moment from recently, keeps replaying in your head… why?
  4. What do you think the nature of the universe is?
  5. Do you believe in purpose? Why or why not?
  6. What do you think about the simulation theory? Do you think life is real?
  7. What makes you feel appreciated and loved? Do you know your love languages?
  8. Tell me an embarrassing childhood story…
  9. What are you most afraid of?
  10. Does death scare you?
  11. What do you think makes a good friend?
  12. Do you like to cook? What’s the last thing you cooked? Or was cooked for you?
  13. If you didn’t live here, where else would you choose?
  14. What’s your favorite emoji? When do you use it?
  15. Is there an emotion you feel that we don’t have a word for? If so, can you describe it.
  16. What would you be most likely to volunteer for?
  17. What are you looking forward to in the next few weeks?
  18. Do you have a favorite word? Why that one?
  19. When do you know you’ve reached adulthood? What makes an adult, an adult?
  20. What does money represent to you? Power, freedom, possession, possibility, guilt, success?
  21. Who do you turn to for sage advice on your personal life? How about your professional life?
  22. What kind of board games do you like? Or do you? When you play — are you the ultra competitive type or more collaborative? Does it upset you if you’re losing?
  23. What’s your plan for the zombie apocalypse? Apocalyptic skills?
  24. How do you center yourself when you’re stressed out?
  25. What’s your fav guilty pleasure junk food?
  26. Do you know your Myers-Briggs personality type, such as ENFP… What are your thoughts on personality assessments? Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you like planning?
  27. Have you ever fallen in love at first sight with a person or a passion? Tell me about that.
  28. Coffee or tea? Or water? How do you take it?
  29. Tell me about your morning — the first 45 minutes after waking up today. What did you do… play-by-play?
  30. What kind of music do you listen to when you need to amp yourself up and get things done? How about when you want to mellow out?
  31. When you start telling a white lie — do you roll right past it or correct yourself?
  32. Let’s play word association… I’ll say a word, then you say a word that you associate with that word and we’ll go back and forth for a minute. I’ll start…
  33. How do you react when you do when you get envious or jealous?
  34. Do you ask people for help when you need it? How does that usually go for you?
  35. Do you have any food preferences — (vegetarian, gluten free, no chocolate, no cilantro, raw, soylent only)?
  36. Is your preference one-on-one time or do you love and feed off of social groups and diverse types of people?
  37. How do you handle feedback? Love or hate people giving you their unsolicited advice?
  38. What’s one thing, you don’t know… for sure?
  39. Who are you becoming?
  40. What excites you these days?
  41. What do you like to do?
  42. If you got to keep 50 objects including clothes and disposed of everything else, what non-clothing items would you keep?
  43. When was the last time you laughed really hard? What were you laughing at — or who were you laughing with?
  44. When is the last time you made someone smile? What did you do to provoke that response?
  45. If you were to give a TED talk this year, what would the title be?
  46. When was the last time your amazed yourself?
  47. How do you experience empathy? Where do you feel it in your body?
  48. What are three words your friends would use to describe you?
  49. Is there a quote you live by? If so, what is it? Mine is…