How To Effectively Ask People About Their Everyday Lives

If you’re new to asking people questions, or if you just want to learn how to be better at it, learning the right way can help. There are lots of different ways to ask people about their lives and experiences. 

In this article, I’ll go over some techniques that can help you get the answers you need without making anyone feel uncomfortable or annoyed!

Learn How to Ask Someone How They Feel | Can Do #10
1. Use open-ended questions to encourage detailed responses.
2. Craft questions that tap into personal experiences and routines.
3. Create a comfortable and non-judgmental environment for sharing.
4. Listen actively and ask follow-up questions to dig deeper.
5. Consider cultural differences and sensitivities when questioning.

Create A Positive Atmosphere

A positive atmosphere will make you more engaging, and your subjects are likely to reciprocate. In fact, they’ll be so open and happy to talk that they might even forget you’re a journalist and tell you things they wouldn’t normally share.

Be polite, respectful, friendly and genuine. You’re not doing anyone any favors by being aggressive or pushy or rudely interrupting people in the middle of an anecdote for a follow-up question that’s not relevant at all to what was said just five seconds ago! 

Instead: be patient; give them time to think about your questions before asking them again; be kind; offer encouragement when needed (and try not to laugh at them if they stumble over their words).

Use positive language; don’t use negative words like “didn’t” “didn’t go well” or “can’t afford it.” Instead, say “had fun” instead of “wasn’t as much fun as last year.” 

It sounds silly but people respond positively when you talk about things positively rather than negatively – even if there is no difference between saying something happened vs didn’t happen!

Open-ended questions are a powerful tool in gathering meaningful insights from your audience. Learn how to create and use them effectively with our guide on How to Use Open-Ended Questions in Marketing Research.

Build Upon The Conversation, Don’t Interrupt It

The best way to build upon the conversation is by asking open-ended questions, and not just for the sake of getting information. 

If you ask about a person’s career or family, it’s easy for them to give you a simple “yes” or “no,” and then move on from there. Instead of doing this, try asking questions that require more thought and creativity questions like:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What did your parents teach you when they were raising you?
  • What’s one thing people don’t know about your job/life/family? These types of questions will get your interviewee thinking more deeply about what they’re saying and how they feel about it.

And will allow them to share things with you that might not have come up otherwise!

Don’t interrupt while someone else is talking; wait until they finish their sentence before speaking again yourself!

Don’t Hurry The Conversation

Don’t rush the conversation, don’t try to get to the end of it, and don’t ask too many questions at once. If you try to move things along or keep asking more questions, your interviewee will feel like they’re being interrogated. 

That’s not what you want! You want them to feel comfortable around you so that they can open up about their everyday lives and tell you all sorts of interesting stuff about themselves.

So when someone starts telling you something personal or important (like their favorite food or why they’re always late), don’t interrupt them by saying “Oh that sounds cool,” 

Because then it sounds like what they said was unimportant and just filler information for them to get back on track with their story! 

Instead, let them finish their thought before saying something like “Wow” or “That’s amazing.” 

This way there is still time left after each segment where both parties can reflect on what has been said thus far before turning attention onto another topic that may require more explanation than others did previously.

But which nonetheless needs attention paid as well if we want our conversations with people outside ourselves (and especially those who might know things we do not!) then we must give ourselves permission

If you’re embarking on a journey of conducting market research, our step-by-step guide can be your compass. Explore How to Conduct Market Research in 14 Easy Steps to ensure you’re on the right track.

Everyone Has Something To Share 

Everyone has a story to tell and a perspective to offer.

That’s why it’s so important to ask questions of the people around us. For us to get what we need, we need them to open up and share their experiences with us. 

We can’t just assume that everyone thinks or feels the same way as we do; instead, we should try our best not only to listen but also to learn from others’ stories and perspectives. 

Asking questions is an effective way of doing this because it forces others into dialogue and that’s when conversations become truly valuable!

Ask Questions That Are Open-Ended Instead Of Closed Or Leading

Open-ended questions are better than closed or leading ones.

Closed questions have one right answer, while open-ended ones do not. Leading questions are those that are phrased in a way that implies the answer you want to receive. “Do you like your job?” is an example of a closed question; there’s only one right answer (yes). 

On the other hand, “What do you like about your job?” is an open question; there could be dozens of answers!

Because they allow for more responses and detail than any other type of question, open-ended queries are best when asking someone about their everyday lives.

Be Curious And Sincere When Asking Your Question

When asking a question, be curious and sincere. Ask questions that you’re genuinely interested in the answers to, not just what you want to know. Be sure your questions are appropriate for the other person’s level of comfort with sharing information with you. 

Remember that people are generally more willing to share personal details with those they trust and feel comfortable around.

Remember: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You can always ask someone more than once if they haven’t answered them satisfactorily the first time around, but don’t ask too many times or become annoying in your efforts.

It will make people feel uncomfortable and may backfire on your chances of getting an answer from them later down the road when it matters (like when writing an article about their lives!). If a question makes someone uncomfortable then don’t ask it!

Understanding your customers’ desires is essential for success. Discover how customer preferences can reshape your strategies in our article on What You Think Your Customers Want May Change Everything You Do.

Never Ask Too Many Questions At One Time

When you’re talking to someone, don’t bombard them with questions; instead, ask one question at a time. It’s best to wait until they’ve answered before moving on to the next question and then you can go back to asking more questions later if it is needed.

Ask one question and then wait for the answer. If it’s appropriate for your interviewee and context, it can help guide your conversation better if you pause after asking each of your questions and allow them time to respond without interruption (as long as this isn’t delaying too much). 

This will allow further clarification or elaboration on their part as well as provide some space between each question; 

This method also prevents people from feeling overwhelmed by having all of their answers rushed into rapid succession.

While they’re still thinking about what they want/need say next during a conversation where everyone else has already moved on to another topic rather than listening carefully enough in order not miss any important details which might otherwise be missed out entirely.

Due to a lack of focus from either side involved in the conversation due mostly because these conversations tend often be both emotionally charged subjects where emotions run high.

So sometimes it becomes difficult focusing solely on the task at hand even though these subjects matter greatly because understanding other people means learning how best serve them best through empathy vs sympathy.”

Ask Genuine Questions That Are Based On Interest Rather Than Judgment

If you want to get the most information from your interview, avoid questions that are leading or judgmental. Instead, ask genuine questions based on interest and curiosity. Make sure they’re open-ended so the person can take their time answering without feeling rushed.

When asking these types of questions:

  • Don’t interrupt their response (or try not to); allow them time to answer fully and thoughtfully.
  • Build on what they’ve said so far rather than rushing into another question right away (this will make your interview more conversational).
  • Create a positive atmosphere by making eye contact, smiling, and nodding as they talk not necessarily in agreement with what they’re saying necessarily but just showing that you’re engaged in what they have to say.

The scientific approach is a cornerstone of effective marketing research. Dive into the world of observation, inference, and testing with insights from our piece on Observation, Inference, and Testing: The Scientific Approach to Marketing Research.

Never Try To Guess The Answer And Lead The Questioner Astray

The most important thing to remember is not to lead the questioner astray. You must be honest with yourself and your interviewee, even if that means saying you don’t know or changing the subject. 

If you are unsure of what someone is telling you, ask for clarification. It’s always better to ask for more information than it is to assume what they might have said. 

Don’t be afraid of ending a conversation if it isn’t going well or being unable to get any new information from your subject; just politely say goodbye and move on!

Answer Questions Honestly And Completely If You Can

Now that you’ve got the basics down, we’ll move on to some advanced techniques for getting honest answers from people. 

These are only worth using if you’re in a strong relationship with the person you’re asking questions of, so don’t worry about adding them yet. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to relationships but it can also be difficult to practice sometimes!

One common phrase we hear at our company is “The truth hurts.” That’s because most people aren’t used to being told how they feel by others (especially those who care about them). 

It’s important not only that you keep your word and tell your friends what they want or need to hear, but also that when asked something difficult or uncomfortable by someone else, you don’t lie. 

By doing this consistently over time, trust will develop between yourself and others around you and then there won’t be any fear surrounding honesty as there would otherwise have been before!

Here’s an example: Imagine I ask my friend “Why did you break up with me?” The first thing he says back is “I’m sorry” instead of answering my question directly; 

This makes me feel guilty even though I know nothing wrong happened between us two weeks ago when they dumped me unexpectedly while out shopping together last weekend.

Because they weren’t feeling well enough emotionally after finishing college applications which took away too much time together during summer break.

If You Can, Answer With An Anecdote That Might Be Interesting To The Other Person

The anecdote is a short, amusing story that can be used to illustrate a point. Anecdotes are usually told in the first person and typically feature one character who is placed in an awkward or otherwise unusual situation. 

In this way, anecdotes can be used to make a point or at least provide some context for it. 

Anecdotes can also be used as personal examples; for example:

You might use an anecdote about how you were once lost as a child at Disneyland to illustrate how difficult it was for you when your phone battery died on you while traveling through Europe (and thus showing why it’s important to have multiple chargers with different plug types).

Anecdotes are relatively common among humans; we all have them! So if someone asks what kind of work you do or what kind of hobbies you enjoy, try using one of your anecdotes rather than just saying “I’m really into baking” or “I love hiking.”

If You’re Uncomfortable With An Honest Answer, Don’t Answer It

If you’re uncomfortable with an honest answer, don’t answer it. If someone asks you a question that makes you feel awkward or embarrassed, don’t feel like you have to give them the information they’re looking for. 

You can say that you don’t know or remember, which is true in most cases (if not all). Or if someone asks about something that happened at work and it’s none of their business, just say “I’m sorry; this isn’t something I want to talk about.” 

If someone asks about your sexual preferences or what kind of sex toys are in your bedroom closet and it makes your mouth dry out from anxiety, just tell them “No thank-you” in a friendly voice and move on to another topic.

If an interviewer asks questions that make me uncomfortable while conducting research interviews as part of my Ph.D. studies.

I will simply say “that’s not something I’m comfortable sharing right now” or “that’s not something I want to talk about right now” and then change topics until we find one where everyone feels more comfortable talking openly with each other again!

Don’t Be Afraid To Change The Subject Or End A Conversation on Anyway

You’re in charge here, and you should be able to ask whatever you want. Don’t be afraid to change the subject or end a conversation at any time if you feel like it’s going nowhere. 

The only thing that matters is getting the information you need and if that means changing the subject halfway through your interview, then so be it.

People are going to judge whether or not your questions are off-putting, but who cares? You’re doing this for yourself, so don’t worry about what other people think of your methods! 

If someone’s offended by how much time and effort went into asking them about their daily routine, then tough noogies: They shouldn’t have agreed to talk with you in the first place.

Avoid Controversial Subjects And Topics That May Cause Offense

You don’t want to be the person who causes offense or discomfort in the workplace. If you ask questions that may offend, your interviewee will be less likely to want to talk with you again.

Avoid asking people about their personal beliefs, political beliefs, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and gender identity. 

These are all topics that could cause tension and lead to difficult conversations. If someone shares this information with you during an interview or conversation of any kind it is best not to discuss it further unless requested by the other party.

Finding the right participants for interviews is crucial in your research journey. Learn the art of identifying and engaging interviewees with guidance from How to Find People to Interview for Your Research Project.

You Don’t Have To Be Friends With Someone For A Long Time

You don’t have to be friends with someone for a long time before asking them about their everyday lives.

You can ask people about their everyday lives in a variety of situations, such as when you’re meeting someone new at work or school, on the bus, or while waiting in line at the grocery store. 

If you’re out with friends and trying to get to know each other better, asking questions about how they spend their time is one way that might help you bond over something everyone has in common after all, we all go through different experiences daily!


If you want to grow your business by learning more about your customers, research is a great way to find out who they are and what they want. By studying people’s everyday lives, you can learn how to meet their needs better. 

And as we’ve seen in this article, there are many methods available for doing this kind of research: from surveys to interviews and focus groups. 

Of course, the most important thing when conducting research is making sure that people feel comfortable sharing information with you. 

So start with open-ended questions and make sure they know their answers won’t have any negative consequences for them (unless otherwise specified).

Further Reading

8 Questions to Ask Someone Other Than “What Do You Do?” Short Description: Explore different conversation starters to break the ice and deepen your interactions beyond the usual work-related questions.

Unique and Engaging Questions to Ask People Short Description: Discover a collection of thought-provoking questions designed to enhance your conversations and foster genuine connections.

Interview Questions to Ask Someone About Their Job Short Description: Learn effective interview techniques that help you gain insights into a person’s job role, experiences, and aspirations.

And here’s the “FAQs” section with semantic-based questions and answers in markdown:


What are some creative conversation starters?

Creative conversation starters can include questions about hobbies, travel experiences, favorite books, or even thought-provoking hypothetical scenarios. These questions open up opportunities for engaging discussions beyond the usual topics.

How can I deepen my connections with people through questions?

To deepen connections, ask open-ended questions that encourage people to share personal stories and experiences. Active listening and showing genuine interest in their responses also contribute to meaningful interactions.

What types of questions work well in job interviews?

In job interviews, focus on questions that delve into a candidate’s skills, achievements, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit with the company. Behavioral questions can help assess how they handled past situations.

How do thought-provoking questions enhance communication?

Thought-provoking questions stimulate critical thinking and encourage individuals to reflect on their beliefs and experiences. They lead to more engaging and memorable conversations.

What should I consider when asking someone about their job?

When asking about someone’s job, be mindful of their role, responsibilities, and industry. Tailor your questions to their professional background, and show genuine interest in understanding their experiences and challenges.