My school starts the academic year a little differently than most. Instead of being in the classroom for the first week of school, we board buses and take all of the students out of state to a summer camp with the teachers.
One of the purposes of the camp is for the students to get to know the faculty out of the context of the classroom.
As a teacher, I am expected to know every student’s name by the end of the week. I not only try to learn names but try to understand the students’ life stories and interests.
There is only one problem. I am an introvert.
The Introvert Struggle
If you are an introvert, you are probably slightly misunderstood.
For example, some of my favorite activities include:
- waking up early to write
- going for an afternoon walk by myself
- taking a nap
- reading a book
- sitting outside and simply thinking
I love times where I just get to be alone and let my thoughts wander. However, alone time is not the ONLY thing that I enjoy.
As an introvert, I really enjoy people. After times of stillness and being alone, I want company and conversation again.
Being an introvert means that I need to be alone to re-energize, so that I can get back to enjoying people.
It’s confusing, I know.
The challenge for introverts is not enjoying people and conversation; the challenge is initiating the interaction.
Come on, introvert or extrovert, you have been there too.
You have had those awkward moments where you are in a conversation of three people. You know one person really well and the conversation is fine. Then your anchor person leaves, and you are stuck with the other guy that you don’t know very well at all.
What do you say? How do you carry on a conversation and get to know that person?
The Conversation Solution
I recently ran across a very helpful acronym on Quora.com. It is brilliant. If you are shy and don’t know what to say to someone, here are some topics that you can talk about from the acronym FORD- Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams.
1. Where is your family from?
2. Do you have siblings?
3. Do you have family in town?
4. What are your parents like?
5. Do you see your family often?
6. What do you parents (or siblings) do?
If they have a spouse or partner.
7. What does your spouse/partner do?
8. Do you have any kids?
9. Do you guys have any family plans this (insert season: spring, fall, winter, summer)?
10. How long have you guys been together?
11. What do you do for a living?
12. How long have you been doing that?
13. Do you like what you do?
14. Can you tell me what a typical day looks like in your job?
15. What’s your favorite part of your job?
16. What’s your least favorite part of your job?
17. Do you plan on staying in that field for a long time?
18. How did you train for your job?
19. Do you like the people you work with?
20. Where do you see this job taking you?
21. What do you do in your free time?
22. Have you read any good books lately?
23. What’s your favorite TV show right now?
24. What do you and your friends do for fun?
25. Do you have any hobbies?
26. Have you been learning anything new lately?
27. Do you have any upcoming vacation plans?
28. What was the last vacation you took?
29. What did you do last weekend?
30. What’s the funniest recent video you’ve seen online?
31. What would be your dream job?
32. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
33. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
34. If you could take lessons on anything, what would you take?
35. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
36. Who is someone you want to be like? Why?
37. If money and time were not obstacles, what is one thing you would do this year?
38. Can you tell me one thing on your bucket list?
39. If you could build your dream house, what would it be like?
40. If you could go back to school, what would you study?
10 Non-conventional bonus questions for the brave introvert
41. What is one movie that always makes you cry? Why?
42. If you were stranded on a desert island but could have any two people of your choice stranded with you, who would they be? (Can be fictional characters).
43. If you were going to be the star of a soap opera, what would the title of the soap opera be?
44. If you had to be on a national TV talent show, what would you do for your talent?
45. If you owned a time machine that would leave you stranded at your destination, what time period would you choose?
46. How do you fold fitted bed sheets? Why do you do it that way?
47. What is one thing in your refrigerator that you are not proud of?
48. What is the latest picture on your smartphone?
49. If you could only wear one set of clothes for the rest of your life, what would you wear?
50. If you knew how to invent smartphone apps, what would your app do?
Don’t waste your time memorizing all of those questions and please don’t have them written on your arm when you go to a dinner party.
Memorize 4–5 of the questions that you like the best. Those can be your go to questions when you need to initiate a conversation. If conversation goes past your initial questions, just remember FORD.
Obviously, most of the above questions won’t work for my students when I go to back-to-school camp. My four go to questions are these:
1. What did you do this summer?
2. What’s your favorite subject in school?
3. What’s the best thing that has happened at camp so far?
4. What’s your family like?
You don’t have to feel stuck as an introvert.
After all, deep down you know you love company and conversation.
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