Are you sick of asking your stylist dead-end questions? So was I.
I had a very lively haircut yesterday. If you had seen how it started, you’d never believe how it ended – it started out in complete silence. I was silent because I did not want to ask my stylist the same dull questions that I usually asked. They rarely amounted to anything worthwhile.
Getting a haircut is great practice if you are shy when meeting new people. You’re stuck in a chair for a solid 10-15 minutes (or maybe more if you’re female). I realize that many smart people have a “go-to” stylist that they know and know won’t destroy their hairstyle, but I’m not that smart yet. Every haircut is a gamble. 😀
I’m not shy when meeting new people, but I find the typical procedure rather formulaic and boring. Wouldn’t it be nice to just skip to the chase and really get to know someone? How can we do that?
Yesterday, I found out how.
*Snip snip* So….
Sitting in the chair – losing hair on purpose for once – there was no conversation to be found. As I said before, I did not want to break the silence just to ask the same lame inquiries that I usually go for. The lame inquiries I speak of:
“How long have you been cutting hair?” 2 years.
“Do you like cutting hair?” Sure.
THREE words total can answer both of those questions in full. This time, I wanted to go deeper and learn more about the person behind the clippers. So I tried a new one and it worked out very well!
“When did you decide to cut hair?”
To give you an idea of where that took things, she stopped cutting my hair several times just to talk and make eye contact – we were really connecting. At different points we were both talking about our deepest passions in life. This happened almost immediately after asking that question.
She talked about her passion first – mentioning she lived in Florida and had a home design business. Now in North Carolina, she didn’t have any clients and so she cut hair.
She said that she was scared and hesitant to start her business. I should have suggested that she read about failure and living with the vigor of a shipwrecked sailor. Seriously, I wish I would have. It may have helped her.
After talking a bit about her story, she took an interest in my story and I ended up telling her about how I graduated college last year, moved away, and eventually moved back in with my parents. I explained that I was going to help people with computers to make money while I work on my blog (passions!).
Me: “Have you considered having an online presence for your business?”
Stylist: “I have no idea about any of that.”
I gave her some basic first steps to setting up a website so that she could do more research for herself. I thought of offering my computer services to her, but my experience outside of WordPress blogs is minimal and that reminds me I need to make some business cards (any recommendations?). The next time I go in there, I might see if she’d be interested in my computer skills.
Why This Question Provokes Deeper Conversation
On the surface, this question seems somewhat plain, but it actually conveys great interest and encourages your conversation partner to open up.
Whenever we make a decision, whether it is to work at a factory, start a blog, or move to Texas, there is an underlying motive. The question being discussed targets that motive. The question again (in case you forgot) is…
“When did you decide to cut hair?”
It takes her back to the point in time that she decided to pursue what she is currently doing. Whatever the answer is, it will be meaningful to her and an integral part of her story. Possible answers?
1. A couple years back, she had the credentials and needed the money – though it wasn’t really what she wanted to do long term. This was the case for her, and it naturally brought her to talk about what she truly desired to do for a living.
2. A couple years back, she realized she loved cutting hair and was passionate about it. It was her chosen field. If this was the case for her, she would have enjoyed talking about what first ignited her passion for it. People love to talk about their passions if someone is willing to listen.
When I think of when I decided to blog, I don’t think of a date – I immediately think of the reason for that decision at that time. “I want to be judged on my own ability for once, I love to write, and I want to help people think actively.” My decision was made after having been rejected by hundreds of companies for months without reasonable cause and without being given a chance – another major part of my story. That struggle gave me the desire to make something myself. This question is the gateway to our stories.
What if I just asked her why she styled hair?
It sorta kinda gets to the same idea, but the focus is not on her passion. “Why do you style hair” only shows interest in the hair-styling aspect of her life and doesn’t encourage her to open up about her real passion if hair-styling isn’t it. Her full response might be: “To make money while I try to figure out my design business.” She only mentions the design business on the side because she thinks I only wanted to know why she styles hair.
On the other hand, the question I did ask probed to see if hair-styling is her passion or not. If it is not, then she knows that I’m interested in what she really wants to do. This was clearly evident from her response! It was a great experience to see a mundane haircut turn into a lively conversation about passions.
How To Do This When You Meet Someone
I already knew her profession, but when you meet Jim for the first time, you would need to first ask, “What do you do?” Once he responds, “I’m a farmer,” then you can ask him the follow up question, “when did you decide to be a farmer?”
1. Farming runs in his family, so he decided to continue the tradition.
2. He enjoys the lifestyle, working outside, and being close to nature.
3. He believes it is important to directly provide food for his family (subsistence farming) and does not want to be dependent on others for food.
All of those possible answers are interesting and have to do with the Jim’s story and passions! When you inquire about someone’s decision to do something, you’re inquiring about their worldview and motive. When it involves something as important as their career, you are bound to discover what they are truly passionate about.
Now I ask you the question – “When did you decide to _____?” You may fill in the blank and answer in the comments if you so please. 🙂