Conversation Topics

Want to get to know your colleagues or teammates on a project? These may give you ideas for topics to ask about and discuss. Perhaps you are looking for a novel way to get to know your friends or family members better?

Some people have trouble with knowing what to talk about or which topics to ask others about to go beyond the first level of getting to know someone – if we assume the first level would be obvious topics like where are you from, what did you study, what kind of role you are in now, etc.

Pick just a handful of topics at most to avoid the other person feeling interviewed. You could also pick perhaps one to two to ask someone you work with or talk to mostly about work on a regular basis – perhaps just before or after a meeting. It could also be useful during a coffee break. Who knows what surprises you may have in learning to understand someone better?

Be sure to pick the right options for people you barely know – some of the topics are better suited for discussions when you already know someone – like friends or family members. I am sure you will apply common sense and wisdom in selecting fun topics that would match the situation and the person you plan to talk to.

Some of these questions can also be used in group ice breaker exercises or as a fun leg-stretching exercise in the middle of a long day of training or meetings.

Some recruiters like to use a question like these to see how candidates might respond. So, read through these, who knows when you may need to come up with an answer to one of them? 😊


Mentoring Agreement

Mentoring usually takes place between someone with experience and someone who needs advice and training in specific areas. Starting the process of mentoring duos sometimes skip the step where they talk about how we agree to go through this process together. What is important to you? What is important to me? What can each of us commit to in order for this to work well for both of us?

This free template below helps you to structure a conversation around what the mentor and mentee specifically agree to commit to. How many hours per month/quarter would we like to spend talking through specific topics?

Feel free to add additional items which would be important to discuss during the first meeting when you (mentor and mentee) agree on how to proceed. This kind of discussion may seem unnecessary, but covering these items upfront can save a lot of disappointment and misunderstandings later when items you might have imagined would be obviously included in your mentoring agreement vary from what the other person may have thought. It is not a contractual agreement as much as it is a summary of what you do or don’t want to commit to for the duration of the mentoring relationship.

When it comes to time commitments, it is also advisable to agree for the mentoring process to have a set time period – 12 months or 18 months. And when that time comes, review what has been achieved and learned and whether it makes sense to continue the mentoring relationship or to agree to end it at that time.

Clearly defining the development objectives to be addressed helps to steer the direction of mentoring discussions. What is it that the mentee needs to know, needs to be able to do, and would like to be able to understand? The more detailed this section is, the easier it might be for either the mentor or the mentee to recognize when the mentoring relationship has helped to achieve those outcomes and it may be time to evaluate whether it makes sense to end the mentoring relationship or continue it with new development objectives.
Considering the agreements discussed during the first section, are there any other expectations that each has of the other and which are useful to mention specifically? For example, the mentor may have the expectation that the mentee would devote time to read specific books or articles every week. Are those expectations realistic for the mentee? If he or she has other obligations which may make it difficult to meet that expectation, it is best to discuss them early on to avoid a misalignment later on in the mentoring relationship.

The full template can be downloaded below – it is a *.pdf file and it can be imported into MSWord for edits.

This file can be very useful to ensure that mentors and mentees are aligned early on in their association which gives their mentoring relationship the best chance to be successful!