The Third Question

Taking an interest in other people is a lost art. Our society teaches us (in many ways that are outside the scope of this document) to focus on “me.” We need to learn how to think outside ourselves. One extremely important lesson in that direction is what I call “The Third Question”. Briefly, here’s how it works.

When speaking with someone, consciously try to get to at least three questions. Most people usually ask one question, then move to another topic or turn the conversation back to themselves. For example, the typical conversation goes like this:

Person A: What did you do this weekend?

Person B: I went to the beach.

Person A: The beach must have been beautiful. I went to the park and it was very hot there, but we took a cooler and the kids played on the swings and we threw the Frisbee around and had a great time.

Imagine how much more connected and valued Person B would feel if Person A instead asked at least three questions.

Person A: What did you do this weekend?

Person B: I went to the beach.

Person A: That sounds great. Which beach?

Person B: Fort Lauderdale beach.

Person A: Did you actually go into the water, or was it too cold?


There’s nothing magical about the number of questions being three. It’s just a guide, and something to lodge in our memories. There are times when many more questions are appropriate.

By intentionally making The Third Question a core part of who you are, you will become a person who expresses true interest in your fellow human beings. As word gets out, you will be surrounded with people who love to speak to you, because your friendship will be like a cup of cold water in the desert. I encourage you to teach them this lesson as well, further helping reestablish the art of caring in meaningful ways about others.

This is an article by Steve Fales, President of AdServices. It has been and will be used on various blogs, sent to friends and associates via e-mail, etc. Feel free to contact Steve any time. He promises not to focus the entire conversation on himself. – steve@adservices.net

One thought on “The Third Question

  1. Jenny Clark says:

    Steve ~ this is great advice!

    I had learned this tip twenty plus years ago when I was brushing up on my ‘how-to-interview-for-a-job’ technique.

    If you ask the interviewer at least 3 questions (or more) to get him/her talking about himself in a positive manner (about his education, job performance and advancements etc), that person will begin to feel proud & really good about himself. As a result he will associate the positive feeling with you – as someone who in turn will impress the company.

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