Dean Clough

June 7, 2024

Portico Darwin: The 36 Questions of a Supercommunicator


<3 Minute Read

Happy Friday and I am in the middle of an interesting book, written by Charles Duhigg, entitled Supercommunicators

I can heartily recommend it to anyone who interacts with others, personally or professionally.  So, you know, everybody.  I am kidding, but not really, as the book drives home the importance and mutual value of actually communicating. 

And how to do that?  Well, the book explains what it takes, and while it's beyond a blog post, today I share a key concept from the book. 

Duhigg makes clear we establish trust with those we don't know by revealing ourselves emotionally.  And that is best done by being asked questions that bring out feelings and emotions.  The book explains how this is a proven way to bring otherwise incompatible people together. 

Wouldn't it be great if there were a list of such questions?  There is.  Duhigg published it in his book's endnotes, and it is actually called the Fast Friends ProcedureIt evolved from the work of the research psychologists (and husband and wife) Elaine and Arthur Aron.  From the book:

There was only one method the Arons tested that could reliably help strangers form a connection.  A series of 36 questions that elicited, per Arthur Aron, "sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure."

Here they are.

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous?  In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?  Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself?  To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time?  Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?  Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner.  Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family?  Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling . . ." 

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share . . ."

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for them to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person?  By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them [already].

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone?  Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire.  After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item.  What would it be?  Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing?  Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how they might handle it.  Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Are these the questions to ask in every circumstance?  Of course not, and Duhigg says that.  But an overarching theme of the book is:  If we put down our devices and get to know each other, really know each other, we can talk - and conceivably address - just about any problem.

What a nice thought for a summer weekend.  I hope yours is a great one.


I can't call him out if I don't give him a platform.  In all his typical "glory," here is Hunter Deuce.

Thanks for the shout-out!  Yes, "Find Your Way Back" is an absolute monster of a track.
Of course, I'm going to point out that you almost got the photo right - that must have been taken after Modern Times was released - that's Donny Baldwin in the back next to Mickey Thomas, who replaced drummer Ansley Dunbar in September of 1982.  I don't think he would appear on an album until 1984's Nuclear Furniture.

In addition to the unwanted staffing history of Jefferson Starship, Mr. Deuce was also kind enough to include this fine photo of SF's Ferry Building, from Embarcadero Center.  True to form, he did lament it not being as happening as it was in the mid-1990s, A.K.A. his playboy years.

Somewhat more balanced and in touch with today's world is our niece, Nicki Vale. 

Next San Francisco trip I would like to check out this brewery 😀😀.  Those Christmas beers sound amazing too! 

Next SF trip?  Switzerland is not enough?

Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


Featuring both "Question and Answer" and "Elucidation," and even entitled Like Minds FFS, here is a super-chill jazz album, from a veritable murderer's row of A-players.  Here are Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, and Dave Holland on an all-star album that shimmers with true high fidelity.

About Dean Clough