Feb 15, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Axios Finish Line: Spicing up conversations

Illustration of a hand toasting with a champagne glass that is filled with small speech bubbles.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Jorge Munoz, a Finish Line reader, says he brought his Walt Disney coworkers to laughter and tears with our suggestion of spicing up small talk with zestier topics.

Why it matters: Jorge asked his colleagues the question Mike Allen and I used over the holidays: What's the most meaningful thing you learned in '23?

  • "Some people were holding back tears as they gave their answers," Jorge told me. "Others made the whole room burst out laughing with theirs. Just amazing to see."

Jorge joined scores of readers in sharing other questions to elicit deeper, real, meaningful discussion.

  • His best: Do you have a favorite picture that you took, or of you, and why is it your favorite?

I promised to pass along other keepers. So here ya go:

  • Jodi Fodor, a book editor in Santa Monica, Calif., has a fun trio: "I call it 'a week, a year and forever,'" she says. "Name a career you'd like to do for a week only, not for one day more. Same question goes for a year. And again for forever."
  • Laura Cooper, a retiree in Charlotte, N.C., who spends her time helping out at local public schools and registering voters, likes to ask: "What do you hope your children and grandchildren know about you?" Or: "What do you hope those people whom you've supervised at work or in another endeavor remember about you?"
  • "Who is the one person that has had the most profound impact on your life and why?" is a favorite of Dean Mitchell of Dothan, Ala.
  • "What's one thing you'd prefer I not know about you?" is on the long list of questions Eric Fridman, an executive coach in Glenview, Ill., likes to ask his clients. Another one: "If your house were on fire, and you had the chance to run back in and retrieve one object, what would it be?"
  • "'If you could learn one language, what would it be and why?' Often gets to some really interesting aspirations," says Anna Boyd of Orlando, who's also an executive coach.
  • Lauren Sjurseth, who works in marketing in Portland, Maine, has a list of favorites saved on her computer. Two from her collection: "Talk about something small your parents did for you that meant more to you than they ever suspected." And: "What traits of your parents do you see in yourself?"
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