Who doesn't hate small talk? Asking someone how they are is polite and all, but does that really tell you anything about the other person? To make a legitimate connection with someone can take a lot of time as you try to learn about a person's life, and Kalina Silverman was not okay with that. After having a hard first year in college, she realized the reason she was so unhappy was because she was lonely. So how do you connect with people more effectively? Ask better questions.
Silverman's experiment had her meeting strangers and asking them "Big" questions instead of meaningless ones and the results are very moving. The amount of detail of these people lives you get from just a short amount of time gives such a better snapshot of who they are than their opinions on the rain. Watch and see how much you can learn about a person if you just knew what to ask them:
Silverman's simple question of "What do you want to do before you die?" surprises the people she is talking to. No one expects that to be the first question out of someone's mouth but it seems to force their guard down and answer honestly.
The video took off and resulted in Kalina being invited to do a TED Talk to explain her theory. Take a look, and try out your own variations on Big Talk so that we can all unanimously give up on small talk!
If you need some tips for how to get started in using Big Talk, there are some tips on her website that will help you get more confident in your question asking skills. It also explains what makes a question a suitable "Big Talk" Question.
What makes a question "BIG TALK?"Universal - Any human being could answer it. It doesn't matter what external factors they are defined by.Open ended - Elicits more than just a yes/no response. There is the opportunity to hear a story.Meaningful - Skips the small talk. Through asking the question, you are able to delve beneath the surface.