asian couple talking young bigstIs this a familiar scenario? You’re sitting around the table, at home or at a restaurant. You and your loved ones have already talked about each other’s days. You’ve already discussed the delicious meal and any upcoming plans.

And now you’re sitting and maybe eating. In silence. Or maybe everyone is looking down and tinkering with their phones.

Or maybe you have lively, fascinating conversations when you’re together. But you’d like to dig deeper.

That’s where questions come in. Questions give us the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of each other, of ourselves.

According to Garry Poole in his book The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starters for Any Occasion, “There is something powerful about questions that force you to think, look within yourself, examine your heart, and search for answers. And it’s in the process of responding to those questions that you often make discoveries about yourself — things you never even realized before.”

The right questions help us make these deep discoveries about our loved ones. We get to learn surprising insights we otherwise wouldn’t be privy to. There are many things we don’t know about our friends and family, and ourselves.

Here are 45 questions to help you get to know your loved ones a whole lot better and bolster your bond. Be sure to follow up each question with “Why?”

  1. What’s something about yourself that you hope will never change?
  2. What books have you read that’ve had a big influence on you?
  3. What goals have you recently set for yourself? How are you doing with these goals so far?
  4. What strange habit do you have?
  5. What do you think is your best quality?
  6. What fear would you like to overcome?
  7. What person, dead or alive, do you wish you could be more like?
  8. Growing up, what was your favorite children’s story or fairy tale?
  9. What’s your favorite poem or saying?
  10. What’s one of your greatest accomplishments?
  11. What was your favorite subject in school?
  12. How have your priorities changed over time?
  13. Who’s had the biggest influence on you?
  14. Have you ever helped a complete stranger? How?
  15. What’s your earliest childhood memory?
  16. What nightmare woke you up in a panic?
  17. What memorable lesson did you learn from your parents?
  18. If you could travel back in time, what year would you visit?
  19. If you could spend an hour doing anything, what would it be?
  20. If you could visit with any person in history, who would it be?
  21. If you could go anywhere for dinner tomorrow, where would you go?
  22. If you could turn into any animal, which one would you be?
  23. If you could write a bestselling book, what would it be about?
  24. If you were a painter, what picture would you paint first?
  25. What does success mean to you?
  26. Why are some people cruel and unkind?
  27. What does it mean when two people have chemistry?
  28. What do you think is the most significant event in the history of the human race?
  29. What is the meaning of life?
  30. What’s one thing you know for sure?
  31. What scares you the most about the future?
  32. What would make you totally content right now?
  33. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
  34. What lesson has failure taught you?
  35. How do you deal with doubt?
  36. When was the last time you cried?
  37. What stresses you out?
  38. What was the greatest day of your life?
  39. Why do you think there are so many religions in the world?
  40. What is your definition of a miracle?
  41. When do you pray? How often? What motivates you to pray?
  42. When do you feel most alone?
  43. Do you believe the human soul is eternal?
  44. What’s something about you that no one knows?
  45. What fills up your heart to bursting level?

Get curious about your loved ones, their thoughts and dreams, their perspectives on the world and life. Ask these questions tonight at dinner or tomorrow at lunch. Ask them during a date with your partner.

No doubt they’ll spark interesting conversations. Maybe these questions will spark other questions you’d like to learn the answers to.

Whatever questions you ask, Poole stresses the importance of listening to the answers. Give your loved ones your undivided attention as they speak. Try to understand where they’re coming from. It’s these kinds of conversations that strengthen our relationships and which we treasure looking back.