real life

The Three Question rule will rescue you from awkward small talk.

Have you ever gone on a date and had the sensation you were interviewing the other person, rather than having a conversation?

Or, have you ever tried talking to someone at a dinner party and felt like you were getting sucked into a social black hole?

Did you walk away feeling utterly exhausted and disappointed?

Well, I have something that’s about to change your life. It’s called The Three Question Rule.

Try the three question rule this weekend. Go on. Dare you. (iStock)

I first heard about The Three Question Rule three years ago after a friend told a friend who told me, and ever since it has changed the way I socially interact with people.

It goes like this: if you meet someone in a social setting for the first time, ask them three questions. If in that time they haven't asked you a question back then GET OUT OF THERE, because that person has no manners and is wasting your time.

Honestly, it’s not hard to ask someone a question; by doing so, you're showing the person you care and are engaged. Therefore, if the person you meet doesn’t care, then don’t force it. It's not your responsibility to carry the conversation just because the other person was obviously raised by wolves.

Let’s play a little game of compare and contrast. Look at these two scenarios and tell me which one you would prefer to be in:

Scenario 1

Jane: Hi! I’m Jane

John: Hi! I’m John

Jane: How do you know Tom?

John: I work with him

Jane: Where do you work?

John: At X Company

Jane: How long have you worked there?


John: Four years

The Mamamia OutLoud team discuss the Three Question Rule. Post continues after audio.

Scenario 2

John: Hi! I’m John

Jane: Hi! I’m Jane

John: How do you know Tom?

Jane: I work with Tom at X Company. You?

John: I play golf with Tom.

Jane: Oh, he talks up a big game. Is he actually any good?

John: Look, I taught him everything he knows… so he’s actually pretty terrible! (both laugh) What do you do for work, Jane?

I’d rather be in scenario two any day of the week. It’s got the flow. It’s got the chem. It doesn’t end with someone asking where the toilet is in a desperate plea to leave the awkwardness of the conversation.


And yes, I know, there will be people you will meet in the future who will fail The Three Question Rule and you will be socially obligated to stay and I feel for you. But if you can get out, GET OUT.

If you’re reading this and thinking, 'Sh*t, I don’t ask questions...' then don’t feel bad. Well, feel a little bad… but, don’t worry - this is your wake up call. Start asking questions and, I promise, you will start having better social experiences.

The Three Question Rule. Now, make like Haley Joel Osment and pay it forward!

Tali Aualiitia created the blog The Opposite of Adulting, a site that explores the challenges of trying to be a "grown up".  She tweets at @taliaualiitia and is a radio producer at ABC Radio Hobart.

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