Using the Word “Best” in Questions

Today I learned that people enjoy answering questions that contain the word “best.”

Especially when engaging with older folks who enjoy looking back over a lifetime of memories, the question, “What was the best. . . ?” draws out information for a great conversation. You might ask, “What did you enjoy best about raising children? About your work life? About your marriage? What are you enjoying best about your life now?”

With students, I might ask, “What was the best sentence you remember from the reading? or What was the best part of your paper? or even What’s the best thing you’ve learned in class so far?”

When someone asks me, “What was the best part of your day?” I always love talking about what I’m learning. It’s a telling answer; you’ll learn that I love to learn. You’ll find that when others answer this question, you’ll see what they value, what they care most deeply about, and what motivates them in life.

I cannot wait to try the “best” question out on my daughters:

(My youngest talks about the snow. She loves snow. It’s magical, Christmasy, and so bizarre in April.)

If you don’t know what to ask someone to draw them out into conversation, try using the language of “the best” about any category, and see what happens.

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