Before reading this, you may want to check out Matt’s post about the “Dearden Method.”
Anyone who has known me for long or even a short amount of time knows that I have learned to tolerate Matt’s random questions to just about anybody, and might I add just about anywhere! Matt does have a genuine love for people, which I absolutely adore (it is one of the reasons why I fell in love with him so quickly). He not only cares for people, but he is genuinely interested in knowing who they are, where they come from, and how they perceive the world around them. Matt treats meeting people like a game; he wants to know how they tick, how their puzzle pieces fit together, and how their seams are stitched together. However, the “Dearden Method” may not always achieve the results he thinks it does.
Matt is right when he says that the “Dearden Method” is a way to connect with friends, co-workers, and even strangers. After all, he has used it on my family, my co-workers, and even my students. He has even used it while in the drive thru, check out, and while I’m shopping. What he doesn’t realize is that the ensuing awkwardness that follows doesn’t always subside. Here are my checkpoints to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Checkpoint 1: Matt doesn’t know the distinction between warm up questions and advanced questions. One of Matt’s philosophies is “go big or go home”, and this applies to his questioning methods as well. Sometimes I wish we would just go home. Let’s just say, he doesn’t always wait for “his moment”
Checkpoint 2: Know your audience. It might not be a good question to ask a group of African American students “If you could be any other race, what race would you be?” Might I add– I am referring to an actual situation that occurred with my advisee students.
Similarly, a cashier may not want to be asked the question “So, what’s your story?” after an eight hour shift.
Checkpoint 3: Matt says that the “Dearden Method” is not just a method but a lifestyle. Might I say– just as the majority of the population does not understand the “Hipster movement,” not everyone will understand the Dearden Method as a lifestyle. Some people might just find you odd.
Checkpoint 4: If you have a significant other, they may not always be interested in being the guinea pig for all your questions. I would suggest practicing your questions in front of the mirror, to your spouse when they are sleeping, or maybe even in front of the TV (you may actually get a response you would like to hear). Not everyone enjoys this game as much as you do.
Checkpoint 5: Don’t keep trying the “Dearden Method” if the receiving party is not interested. For example, Matt once asked one of my family members a series of questions when first getting to know her. Here’s how the conversation went, almost word for word.
Matt: “If you could open any type of restaurant, what would you open?”
Unidentified person: “Whatever ____________ (boyfriend’s name) would want.”
Matt: “If you could sit down with any three movie stars for lunch, dead or alive, who would you sit down with?”
Unidentified person: “I don’t really care to meet any movie stars.”
Matt: “If you could be any other race, what race would you be?”
Unidentified person: “I’m happy with how God made me.”
Need I continue?
To Matt’s credit, he is very skilled at interacting with people, and he uses the method as well as anyone (after all, the method is named after him). I would encourage you to practice the method yourself. Why not give it a try? But like any other method or strategy out there, it will not work for everyone. While it would be great to observe someone who has mastered the method, I’m not sure if Matt has even mastered the method himself. But with a loving wife (or another significant other) coaching you through uncomfortable situations, you can achieve great success in getting to know the people around you. Just remember, if you feel like you haven’t mastered the method, no worries, and as Matt would say, “You can’t win ‘em all.”
– Rach, for the Deardens