Why Follow Up Questions Are Key To Recording Life Stories

Why Follow Up Questions Are Key To Recording Life Stories

How many of us would love to hear our friend's and family's life stories? Not just the surface level, but truly dig deep and get to know the stories behind who they are today. How many of us have taken too long to realize this?

Surely we know "the brush strokes about our parents' past," but have you ever taken the chance to dig deeper into 'the why' behind your parent's life story? Your friend's life story? If not, why haven't you?

If you only have a surface level understanding of your friends and family, you'll only understand the tip of the iceberg of who you are. Hearing their story can help you understand yourself and feel more connected to that person than ever.

That's why here at Kindred we focus on the follow-up questions that break through the surface. The secret sauce behind our amazing Kindred documentary videos. The reason we have an experienced interviewer meet with your loved ones to ask the important questions and then dig even deeper.

Richard Davis, PhD, at the Harvard Business Review summarizes our approach well: "the key to understanding people lies in the follow up question."

Recording family stories and memories is no easy task. That's why we're here to help. Here are example questions that you should ask your family members with the ever-so-important follow-up questions to dig even deeper.

We'll cover: Family Life, Relationships, Life Events / Moments In Time, Career & Accomplishments, and Legacy & Wisdom.

Family Life

Primary Questions

  1. What does the word 'family' mean to you?
  2. What was it like growing up in your household?
  3. What family tradition do you cherish the most?

Follow-Up Questions

  1. How would you describe your perception of family to someone who is just starting their own?
  2. Describe what it was like at your family dinner table.
  3. Describe a time when one of your family traditions was at its best.

Dig-Deep Questions 

  1. If you had the chance to meet your great, great, great, great grandchildren - what family values would you hope have lived on?
  2. Who looked out for you the most as a child and what do they mean to you today?
  3. Which of your family values do you feel is best represented with a tradition?

 

Relationships

Primary Questions

  1. Who would you say is one of your best friends at the moment?
  2. How would you describe your relationship with your significant other to someone who has never met you?
  3. Where and when did you meet your friend/significant other?
Follow-Up Questions
  1. What qualities do you share with your friend/significant other that you think make you so connected?
  2. With no other obligations, what would a perfect day with your friend/significant other look like?
  3. What was the world like at the time you met your friend/significant other?
Dig-Deep Questions 
  1. What was your life like before meeting this friend/significant other? In what ways has it changed the most?
  2. In what ways does your friend/significant other other make the world a better place?
  3. What is a stand-out detail from the night you met your friend/significant other that you still remember vividly?

 

Life Events + Moments In Time

Primary Questions

  1. Describe this event and why it is important to your life story.
  2. How long has your life been leading up to this event?
  3. What emotions did you experience leading up to, during, and after this event?

Follow-Up Questions

  1. If this event were written in a newspaper, what would its headline be?
  2. Was there any point in your journey when you thought about changing your course?
  3. Is there an emotion you expected to feel at this event, but didn't? Any you felt more than you expected?

Dig-Deep Questions 

  1. How would your day-to-day life be different if this event never happened?
  2. What's the biggest misconception people have about this event? What would you like them to understand about it?
  3. What is a story from this event that your friends and family will tell forever? What does it mean for your legacy?

 

Career + Accomplishments

Primary Questions

  1. Describe how you feel about your career accomplishments today.
  2. How would you describe the journey you needed to take to achieve your goals?
  3. Describe any significant challenges you needed to face.

Follow-Up Questions

  1. Help us walk in your shoes for a second, what is a day in the life like when you were at the peak of your career?
  2. How well did you balance your career and lifestyle?
  3. Were there any moments when you felt like an imposter in your role? How did you handle that mental challenge?

Dig-Deep Questions 

  1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that compare to where you are now?
  2. What did you need to sacrifice in order to pursue this career?
  3. On even the most challenging days, what helped you get up in the morning? What gave you comfort or hope?

 

Legacy + Wisdom

Primary Questions

  1. What do you feel is one of your biggest strengths?
  2. How would you like to be remembered?
  3. If you had to pick just 3 personal principles to live by, what would they be?

Follow-Up Questions

  1. Who or what helped you develop your greatest strength? What would you like to say to them?
  2. At your funeral or celebration of life, what themes or topics would you like your friends and family to discuss?
  3. Which one of your personal principles would you say is the most important? Why?

Dig-Deep Questions 

  1. How are you going about passing your strengths on to future generations? What words of advice would you like to share?
  2. If you were to summarize your life into a couple of sentences, what would they be?
  3. What advice would you give to a young person feeling lost or confused in life?

 

Additional Inspiration

These are just a few examples of questions we like to ask in our interviews. If you're looking for more inspiration, we've collected a variety of sources that can help.

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Your loved ones deserve their own documentaries.

Gift them the experience of telling their life story now, and cherish it forever.

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