Sparking Online Conversations With Appropriate Questions

Rad Dewey

Want to start and email conversation with someone who flirted back when you sent them an Icebreaker?
The best interviewers on television, on radio or in print share a couple of sure-fire techniques for getting their subjects to open up and reveal themselves. First, they ask great questions. They put themselves in the place of the members of their audience. What would they want to know? And rarely, if ever, can the answer just be a "Yes" or a "No."
Second, the best interviewers listen to their subjects. If a question prompts an intriguing answer, the interviewer pursues it. And, because they're such attentive listeners, they put their interview subjects at ease. They change their interviews into conversations.
Use the same techniques yourself
You can apply the same techniques to start great conversations through email or by IM. All you need are some sparkling questions. To get you started, we've supplied several questions that attracted interesting responses when they've been used by one of our team members. Be prepared with a good answer of your own for any of the questions you ask.

* If our moms were setting us up on a blind date, what three things would your mom tell mine about you?
* What's your favorite beach in the world?
* What's the next country you want to visit?
* What one thing are you craving today?
* What music is in your car or home stereo right now?
* What are three of your guilty pleasures?
* What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
* What is must-see TV for you?
* If you met the right person, how many children would you have?

Readers told us their best questions

* If you could live in any time period in history, when would it be? -- Hacklefish
* 1) What was one of your most memorable jobs? (I like this 'cuz I mowed cemeteries and dug graves with my family.) 2) Do you endure, like, or absolutely LOVE your job? 3) If asked, would you dance in the middle of a grocery aisle? -- Cindy
* What are your passions? What moves you? (You'll always get a great response because people don't expect that kind of realness in conversation right from the beginning.) -- Kenneth
* When you meet someone, do you concentrate on their physical appearance or the way they act towards you? -- Nadia
* If you won $1 million in a lottery, how would you spend it? -- Ludi
* What is the craziest thing you've done lately? -- Emily
* What turns you on, specifically what physical or emotional features? -- Lizmet
* If you could invite any five people to your birthday party, who would they be? -- Roberto
* 1) If time and money were not an obstacle, to what causes would you dedicate your time? 2) What are three things that you dislike the most in a person? (I believe it is important to know not only what the other person likes, but also what he/she does not like.) -- Luzmarie
* If we were to hit it off on our first date, what emotions would that set off in you? -- Becky
* What's your favorite color? -- Judy
* Do you as a man enjoy having a woman take care of you? (Some men like to have the control of taking care of the women.) -- Theresa
* Are you listening to music or watching TV at this moment? What are you listening to or watching? -- D.W.
* If you could be an animated superhero, which one would you be and why? -- Cooper
* If you were a candy bar, which one would you be, and why? -- Desiree
* 1) What was one of your most embarrassing moments? 2) What was your proudest moment? 3) What are the three most important qualities you are looking for in that significant other and why? 4) Who is your hero and why? 5) If you could talk to one famous person (dead or alive), who would it be and what one question would you ask him or her? -- Kamara
* If you went in to work and learned you had an unexpected day off, what would you do with your day? -- Kandis
* 1) What is your favorite food? 2) What is your "comfort" meal? 3) Do you practice a faith? 4) Where do you attend church? 5) Do you believe in God/ a higher power? -- Anna
* What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this? (Get some good feedback with that question.) -- Tony
* 1) If you could spend the day with one person (living or deceased) who would it be and why? 2) Money no object, describe your dream vacation... 3) What is your fondest memory from childhood? 4) Who is your hero? 5) What is the one thing that you couldn't live without? 6) East Coast or West? -- Rachael
* What do you like best about being single? (The answer tells me a lot, mostly if they are happy with themselves or bitter over past issues.) -- Carol
* What was your favorite vacation? Where would you like to go on the next one? -- Linda
* What are six adjectives that describe yourself? -- Teri ?
* If you were suddenly queen of the world, what would be your first new rule? -- Bill K.
* I ask them to explain the meaning behind their screen name (unless it is obvious). I have been told that people rarely ask that question. -- Reed M.
* Toilet paper over or under? -- Tara P.
* Ask - what are your three best qualities, what are your three worst? Also, what is your favorite part of your body, then - what is your least favorite? -- Alistair K.
* I will usually ask a guy, "What are the little things in life than you enjoy?" I'm not talking about major hobbies or anything like that, but just those little everyday things that will make you smile. I then give a couple of examples of the type of little things I mean. For instance, I happen to love just dozing on my bed in the late afternoon/early evening when the sun is streaming in the window directly on my face. I'm not sleeping, but just enjoying the rest with the sun on my face. It's a very warm feeling and one can only think happy thoughts then. I think you find out quite a bit about a person this way. Also, it's not something they're used to thinking about so seldom do you get a "canned" response. -- Kristyne H.
* If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be? -- Becky D.
* What defines compatibility between two individuals? And when do you personally know if you are compatible with someone? Also, thinking about the people who you most admire in your life, what attributes do they hold that makes them attractive and admirable to you? -- Christi U.
* If you could pick just one it would be: attractive, intelligent or rich? -- Sandra
* If you were a light bulb, what kind would you be and why? --Jason H.
* For older singles, ask the other person to tell you about his or her family. If the man I'm communicating with doesn't want to brag about his kids, it's a bad sign! -- Kandi G.
* What makes your heart pound? What makes your skin crawl? -- Belinda K.
* What was the last movie you saw that made you cry? If she asks me the same question, I answer it (truthfully). This shows that I am emotional, and it will also tell me about what situations she can relate to. It's difficult to cry during a movie where you don't feel a personal connection. -- Chuck R.
* What are three of your faults that you would like to change? Are you working on them now? -- Nancy
* How was your day? (I ask because I really want to know and also because it helps me get to know a person better when they describe what they have been doing that day.) -- Cindy C.
* When they make the movie about your life, what actor should portray you? -- Leslie R.
* What's a nice person like you doing in a place like this? -- C.G.
* If talent, ability and money were not factors, what job would you do? -- Ellen R.
* What are your wants, dreams and desires? No cheating now. Think about them before you answer. -- Mark B.
* (1) What was your favorite cereal as a kid? (2) What was your favorite cartoon as a kid? These questions have always worked for me -- they bring out the playfulness in a person and the subject matter is not too heavy. -- Vanessa M.
* What does it take to keep your attention? -- Montgomery
* The only way a relationship will stand is by having a solid foundation. Your list should be reduced to just one question: Where do you stand in "religious" beliefs? Solid relationships are the relationships that are held together by an external force, mainly God. Not just any god, but the god of the scriptures. If your relationship does not have that the foundation it is currently based on is soon to crumble. -- Andre

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