Encouraging Authenticity: 29 Starter Questions

Decorative: "Authenticity is magnetic"


A. "29 Questions That Make People Let Down Their Guard and Be More Authentic" (post) lists 29 "[o]pen-ended inquiries that ... build trust every time."

1. The questions "dive into a person's history, likes and dislikes, personality and values, and they all give the impression that their individuality is of interest and consequence."

  • "They're also questions that allow you to continue the conversation with personal information of your own."
  • "That kind of sharing can help the other person relax and serves as a demonstration that openness is perfectly OK."

2. Note "the right question is only the start. How you ask it is just as important."

  • "Avoid a frantic pace or tone, and mirror the other person's body language."
  • Perhaps "ask these questions one-on-one rather than in front of a group."
  • "A little at a time, you'll ask your way to impenetrable trust."

B. The Uses of Starter Questions

Such starter questions can be useful for the following [select questions appropriate to the context, of course]:

  • Ice-breakers
  • Establishing rapport in class, committees, or collaborative groups
  • Furthering discussions, inquiries, follow-ups, or reflections
  • Relationship-building in assessments, departments, etc.

C. The Questions 

"If you really want to break through someone's shell in a kind way, hit them with questions that encourage authenticity like those below":

  • "What's your opinion on...?"
  • "What's on your mind today?"
  • "Where/How did you learn that?"
  • "What would you do next?"
  • "Can you explain your rationale?"
  • "What does that mean for you?"
  • "Which people do you admire or look up to?"
  • "What's the best way for me to help you?"
  • "Are you comfortable/feeling OK?"
  • "Is X working/enjoyable for you?"
  • "What's your main goal?"
  • "What makes you laugh?"
  • "What do you like to wear most or feel most comfortable in?"
  • "What do you like to do on your free time?"
  • "What is your favorite part about...?"
  • "What would you change?"
  • "What motivates you?"
  • "Have you ever...?"
  • "What has your experience been with...?"
  • "What do you know about...?"
  • "What's the biggest value to you?"
  • "Would you mind sharing...?"
  • "Is there anything else you think is important?"
  • "What else should I know?"
  • "What would you do if...?"
  • "What do you think is the best way to...?"
  • "What is most convenient for you?"
  • "What are your expectations?"
  • "What's your preference?"
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