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FORD Ahead

No, I’m not sending out a warning that a Ford brand vehicle is up ahead. Normally the term is “forge ahead” meaning to move forward, slowly and steadily. Certainly that is something you want to do when fording a river or stream at the narrow and safe path. But, there is another place where you need to move slowly and steadily toward a goal. That’s when you are moving to develop trust with another person — be it your partner, your child, or a client. In that case, consider using FORD on that narrow path.

No, I don’t mean a Ford brand vehicle, like my new Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle that goes from 0-60 in 3.6 seconds (what a rush that is!).

I mean using the FORD method of getting to know someone, where FORD is an acronym for . . . 

Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams

Asking simple and easy to answer questions is a trusted way to get people talking about their favorite subject — themselves. I once spent a couple of years in multi-level marketing, learning about what it takes to relate to people. It was good training for a confirmed introvert trained in engineering. Without the insights and practice gained, I would likely not have advanced to management and leadership positions. I learned the power of making a benign comment, such as:

  • “Is that an engagement ring?”
  • “What great looking eyeglass frames! Where did you get them?”
  • “I see you have some body art. What’s the significance of some of them?”

People will be glad to answer many such questions and, in the process, remember you cared about them and think more highly of you. Let’s break down a bit more of the questions you can pursue with the FORD method. Open ended questions that require more than a yes/no answer are preferred. Consider asking a yes/no question, but follow it up with one or more open ended questions. You might also relate something about yourself before asking one of the open ended questions. That can show you are vulnerable and suggest that you are seeking some input from them. People enjoy helping others.


Yes/No/Short Answer:

  • Do you have a partner?
  • Do you have siblings?
  • Are your parents living?

Open Ended:

  • What kind of communications issues do you have with family members?
  • How is it when the family gets together for a holiday celebration?
  • What do you like doing best with your family?


Yes/No/Short Answer:

  • Where do you work?
  • What do you do?
  • Who do you report to?

Open Ended:

  • How did you end up at that company?
  • What frustrates you at work?
  • What do you like best about working there?


Yes/No/Short Answer:

  • What do you like to do on the weekend?
  • Do you have a hobby?
  • Do you watch sports?

Open Ended:

  • Why do you enjoy doing that on that weekend?
  • What appeals to you about that hobby?
  • What sports do you watch and why?


Yes/No/Short Answer:

  • Do you ever think about where you’ll be in five or ten years?
  • Are you happy and satisfied with where you are now?
  • When do you plan to retire?

Open Ended:

  • Where would you like to be in your personal life in a few years?
  • What position would you like to have in the future?
  • What will you do when you retire?

Keep in mind that I was trained as an engineer and have favored being an introvert most of my life. I’m still in training. Use your judgement on what followup, open-ended questions to ask. Move too quickly, and a hazard may take you out as you ford the river from just meeting to crossing over to trust.

Here is a link to one of many articles on the subject of the Ford method: