Are you feeling stuck creatively or simply desire change from “this is how we always do it around here”? Read on for five refreshing questions to ask mentors, sponsors and trusted friends for a fresh perspective on work and life.

  1. Can You Help Me Brainstorm _____ (aka New Ideas)? Easy question to engage a conversation around whatever is on your mind, from work or DIY home project, resume writing or even redecorating your office. Some people are verbal processors, others need time to think a solution through. Brainstorming allows ideas to come out and start building traction. These conversations often lead to additional ideas and stronger solutions.
  2. What is the Best Offsite Meeting You’ve Attended? If your department or family are stuck in the same-old, same-old rut, ask others which conferences, speaker series and/or podcasts they’ve enjoyed lately. A change of voice, location and opinion will break stagnate patterns, allowing new energy, thought and creativity.
  3. Can you Give Me Advice on this Situation? Great question when someone or something keeps frustrating you or a situation continues to rear its ugly head (i.e.: disagreements, unequal workload, unfair treatment). Once you are finished venting, make sure you include how you possibly are to blame, your trusted advisors needs to hear the full story.
    1. How Could I have Handled this Better? Your confidant knows you well. They have seen you in different scenarios, so take question #3 a step farther and vulnerably ask them to provide honest perspective to patterns they’ve noticed. It’s best if you can be in a position of humility, as fresh eyes can reveal more than you might expect.
  4. Have you ever Failed Forward? You will be surprised from the answers you will receive – from missed opportunities on products, prior business ventures, even about that girl who got away. Be all ears! Not only is your advisor being vulnerable, there is great wisdom to be learned, mistakes to be avoided. Take note of their grit, resolve and intense work/life ethic. These stories, by no coincidence, are typically shared at the exact time you need to hear them.
  5. How Can I Help You? While your professional contacts are incredible career resources, remember that networking should never be a one-way street. When you’re asking your contacts for something—and even when you’re not! —always look for ways that you can help them, too.

Looking for fresh conversation starters for networking or dating? Read “Dreading Small Talk” Blog.