Recently the New York Times ran an article, “To Fall in Love with Anyone do This” by Mandy Catron where she implemented a study by psychologist Arthur Aron. His study suggests that if you sit down and ask someone these 36 questions and then stare at them for four minutes, you have a good chance of falling in love.
Following up on my tip around Emotional Intimacy in the Workplace, I would suggest that of these 36 questions, 14 are work appropriate. Answers to these questions are social glue. And anyone can ask or answer them. Of course, I’m not looking for your team to fall in love, however these questions create a deeper connection than the weather, what did you do this weekend, or do you have the report.
Consider opening your next meeting with one of these under the context of an “icebreaker,” a round robin at the Friday Afternoon Club, at your next check-in with your direct report or over lunch with colleagues. While face-to-face is ideal, you could try posting on a board in the lunch-room (or an online board for remote teams) where folks post their answers. By the way these also make great interview questions:
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Would you like to be famous? In what way?
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Name three things you and your co-worker appear to have in common.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
What do you value most in a friendship?
What is your most treasured memory?
Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
Bonus: If you could have the superpower of being invisible or fly, which would you choose and why? (Discovered when listening to Act 1 of This American Life on Superpowers)
PS – Nothing to do with the workplace, if you have a beloved, consider a leisurely date answering the 36 questions.