Episode 124.5 – Green Apple Slice


9 Questions Interesting People Ask to Cut Through the Small Talk


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.

This week, John and Rachel discuss an Inc article, “9 Questions Interesting People Ask to Cut Through the Small Talk” by Marcel Schwantes.


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    Hey, it’s John Garrett coming to you with another Episode of Green Apple Slices where every Monday, for a quick little boost to get your week started, I always bring in my co-host and partner in crime, Rachel Fisch. Rachel, how are you doing?

    Rachel: Good. How are you doing, John?

    John: Doing great. The Accountants Group Leader for Canada, for Sage, for the world but yeah, but it’s great because everybody Wednesday, I do the longer interviews for those of you that are new to the show but every Monday, Rachel and I always chat through an article that we find online about employee engagement or firm culture, things like that. Rachel found a great one on Inc., an article by Marcel Schwantes “9 Questions Interesting People Ask to Cut through the Small Talk.” The byline is it all starts with having a genuine interest in the other person. How weird is that.

    Rachel: What? You have that interest in people that you’re talking to? That’s crazy. I mean we’ve been talking about this for well over a year and it’s like this is being discovered for the first time and I’m like, “Um.”

    John: You’re right. For some reason it’s not natural ones we step into our corporate office to do that.

    Rachel: Which is crazy, yeah.

    John: When we’re out in our social life in our regular world and running into people, you’ll talk to people more at a grocery store than you will at work, which is crazy. I mean he just admitted that he has to physically and mentally tell himself to pay attention to when people are talking.

    Rachel: Yeah, again, which is kind of silly. I think that people have different conceptions on being in a work environment or being in a social environment with work people which can sometimes be like the most awkward which is so weird because it’s like you spend more waking time with them than you probably do your own family. Yet, sometimes it can really be awkward and so it’s like going through this checklist in your mind of, okay, have I asked about the weather? Okay, have I asked about their kids? Okay. All those things and it’s like —

    John: How about those gas prices, huh?

    Rachel: Right. Actually, I have a little bit of a story where I was at a very similar event like this. It was a firm event and I was with some co-workers and we’re sitting and talking and it was that, it was a feeling like we had gone through all of the, okay, we’ve talked about the weather, here’s picture of my kids, like all of that stuff and a couple of my colleagues had to leave and so I was left alone with all of these strangers which I don’t necessarily do well with. So we just kind of started talking and asking some of these questions actually which are just in this list though, that turned out cool but we had a far more engaging and captivating conversation once we stopped with the small talk.

    John: That’s amazing, right. Yeah, I mean that’s awesome. It’s just being willing to go there. I mean he says in his article that I’ll read it right here is, “If you’re in a conversation at a work-related function or meeting someone to talk business for the first time, your best move is not to ask work- or business-related questions.” Right? I mean it’s finding that common ties and then come back to the work stuff but asking those deeper level questions will get you there a lot faster. Like you said, some of the questions that were listed in the article you actually ended up using on accident before you even read this article.

    Rachel: That’s right.

    John: So that’s great.

    Rachel: By accident because I didn’t know what the list was at that time but some of them actually got me a little nervous as I was reading them. I’m like this kind of sounds like an in-depth interview that I’m not really sure. Casual acquaintance sounds normal but I mean, again, don’t go through this list as in these are all the questions I need to ask you now but I’m sure that normal conversation will work its way towards. So out of this list of 9, John, what sticks out to you?

    John: I guess I mean sometimes it’s fun just to you know, “What’s your story” is great but then some people might be like, “Well, what do you mean by story?” But one that I loved is just you know, “Why did you choose your profession?” I mean every Wednesday when I do the longer interviews I usually start with “What made you want to get in to accounting? What made you want to get in to be a lawyer? What made you want to become an engineer?”

    Rachel: That was the question that stuck out to me as well because it’s something that everybody can answer and usually starts a really good discussion.

    John: Yeah, and it’s work-related-ish. It’s tangential anyway. But yeah, I mean some of them are like, “What excites you right now?” or I don’t know, “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this year?” I mean that’s a very personal type of questions that they’re like, “I don’t really feel –” I don’t even know. I’m uncomfortable thinking about it in my head let alone saying it to you.

    But I would ask you what’s your story but we don’t have that kind of time. So if everybody wants to take a read and read the whole article, see all the questions you can go to greenapplepodcast.com and while you’re there don’t forget to hit subscribe here while you’re listening and follow us on Twitter @GreenApplePod or at @FischBooks for Rachel or @RecoveringCPA for me. Yeah, that’s it.

    So where you off to this week, Rachel?

    Rachel: I’m actually in Vancouver right now but I have a pretty big trip coming up in a couple of weeks that I’m excited about.

    John: Wow, that’s awesome. Well, enjoy your time there and have a great rest of the week.

    Rachel: You too, John.

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