As a professional educator for 35 years, I would get the kids around in a circle on the first day of school, and ask them “What’s the one thing you want me to know about you?”

There were several reasons for asking this question. One, it was a great ‘get to know you’ kind of question. I was going to get to know at least one thing about them. They were going to get to know at least one thing about each other, and they were going to get to know at least one thing about me.

Another reason for asking this question is that it was going to start building connections to and from each other right from the beginning on the very first day of classes.

The third reason and this is the biggest one, is that we started building layers of trust with each other immediately. The more levels and layers of trust we built, the more we were going to be successful in working with each other and supporting each other in making music for our entire school year together.

Here are some things students shared in our circle:

“I’m terrified of spiders.”

“I love pizza.”

“My grandpa died this summer and I really miss him.” (The group went very quiet for a moment, and some expressed their sympathies)

And this one:

“I hate the color orange.” (It was a good thing our concert uniforms weren’t orange!)

I learned interesting things about how I could support them, be with them, understand them, what made them tick, and what kinds of things they liked or disliked. It really helped me create more meaningful connections with them.

There are some ground rules to keep in mind as you ask this question.

1. Be sincere in wanting to get to know them.

2. Ask for honesty and sincerity in return.

3. Seek permission to ask questions.

4. Promise never to use their answers in a negative way.

What are some helpful things you might learn about your employees, team members, and others in your circles of love and influence if you asked this question “What’s one thing you want me to know about you?” during their interviews? What benefits might you gain with those same people if you took time during some of your meetings and used it as a team-building activity?

Give this a try and let me know how it went.

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