Guest Post by Judy Douglass

The introvert in me resists social settings filled with strangers I must talk to. But that is a common component of my job: meeting, greeting, welcoming new people. Casual conversation at a reception or over dinner. Exactly the kind of interaction I don’t prefer.

But my goal is to make these people feel comfortable, to get to know them and introduce them to our ministry.  To begin to build a relationship—with me and with our organization.

I’m a storyteller by nature, so I could entertain and inform them for some time.  Some of that is appropriate and helpful, but then I don’t get to know them and they don’t feel valued.

So what do you talk about past weather and family?  How do you pursue meaningful conversation?

The answer, of course, is to ask the right questions.  I go into such gatherings with several in mind:  Inquiries that draw them out, elicit more than yes or no answers, evoke authentic responses.

Here is my favorite question:  How has God surprised you lately?

If they need a little more guidance, I might say:  What has He taught you through some recent event—it can be negative or positive?  What have you learned about God, or yourself, or your purpose as He has intersected your life?

I have been amazed at the stories I have heard:  A struggle with a wayward child, the blessing of a rich relationship, a character flaw revealed and transformed, God’s willingness to use a weak vessel in powerful ministry, grace and strength through a debilitating illness, peace in the loss of a loved one….

This question has never failed to draw people into deeper revelation of their lives.  And almost always they return the ask, and I can share a recent story of discovery or growth.

I have loved our time together, and the introvert in me has not been stressed.  A relationship has begun—and has even occasionally led to friendship.

So, how has God surprised you lately?

Judy Douglass is a writer, speaker and encourager.  She partners with her husband, Steve, to lead Campus Crusade for Christ International.  A former magazine editor and author of five books, Judy travels the globe to love and encourage staff to believe God for the more He wants to do in and through them.  She writes at Kindling (www.inkindle.wordpress.com) and tweets @Jeedoo417.

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4 thoughts on “What’s Better than Small Talk?

  1. Donalyn says:

    This question is a great suggestion! I will definitely plan to use it.

  2. Gary Cohen says:

    For me I try to learn two things about each guest. When I am most successful people wonder who I am and know nothing of me because I am asking all the questions. Thanks for getting us to remember the value of the question in these settings!

  3. Thanks Gary! Who else has one or two great questions for social settings?

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