Read About Our Philosophy in Dr. Ranjit Nair's book, 'The Potluck Culture'


F.O.R.M a Meaningful, Healthy, and Productive Connection

Dr. Ranjit Nair
Dr. Ranjit Nair Founder and CEO

“In my walks, everyone I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from them.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

F.O.R.M. is an acronym that stands for Friends, Occupation, Recreation, and Meaning. This is a simple tool that can help us form good and lasting relationships. The use of this as a conversation starter, icebreaker or team-building activity refers to the four key areas of life thatpeople often focus on when trying to improve their overall well-being and happiness. It highlights the importance of having strong social connections with friends and family, being engaged in meaningful and satisfying work, finding time for leisure activities and hobbies, and having a sense of purpose or meaning in life. These are the major categories or areas in life where people truly interact as humans. We can tap into this as we learn about ourselves and build our path to become an emerging leader. When you meet someone, remember to discuss:

(F) Family and Friends: Ask about their family, friends, or where they grew up

(O) Occupation: Ask about their current or past work experiences

(R) Recreation: Ask about what they enjoy doing outside of work

(M) Meaning, Motivation, or Mission: Ask what matters most to them

When this simple model is used, we enhance our genuine self to be really present for others right from the get-go. Of course, any of the letters can or not be used in any sitting with others. Mixing and matching the letters is also a good practice. For example, asking where someone is from or was raised can be followed – during the dialogue – by asking wat it was like living or working there and learning more about the differences between then and where they are now. Asking others about their work or job experience can shed a lot of light on their motivators and driving forces and what might be like to work for or with them. There’s also much that can be gleaned from how they answer questions about their experiences at work and assess their level of enthusiasm or otherwise about those experiences.

It's best to save the last letter in the tool for when a relationship has been built or is beginning to be warm. What matters most in life and work for someone can be quite emotional and enlightening but also can reveal a great deal about the person and what their personal values are. As such, although there is no rule as to which letter in F.O.R.M.to start a dialogue with, some suggest beginning with “FOR” with people and work up to “FORM” with them. When we discover what motivates a person, we can better connect with them and sell ourselves or make our viewpoints, ideas, services, or products resonate with them. Aptly, F.O.R.M. can be adapted to business, social, and dating situations.

Here are some questions to reflect on:

F: Family and Friends. Ask about other people’s families and friends and tell them a little about yours.

  • Tell me about your family . . .
  • Is your family nearby?
  • Do you come from a big family?
  • How do you spend the holidays?
  • What is it like being the only girl/boy/ in the family?
  • How did you meet your husband/wife?
  • What’s it like having twins?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • Do you still have family there?
  • Why did you move?

O: Occupation. Ask about what they do for a living and tell them about what you do for a living. Talk about how your jobs are alike or different. If you want to keep it wide open and not put someone in an awkward position who may be unemployed, you can ask, “How do you spend your time?” Other examples:

• Tell me about your job/business?

• What is the best part of your job?

• What is most challenging?

• How did you choose your job/profession?

• What would you tell someone just starting out in your profession?

• What’s your dream job?

• What’s one thing you would change in your job?

• What do you love most about your job?

• What is the culture like in your job?

• Do you feel that you belong on your company?

• Do you know why you do what you do?

R: Recreation. Ask them about what they do for fun (sports, hobbies, volunteering, kids’ activities) and talk about things you have in common or that you would like to try someday.

• What do you like to do in your spare time/for fun?

• How did you get into that?

• What did you do for fun as a kid?

• What is your favorite type of food/restaurant?

M: Motivation. Ask questions to determine what is important to the other person.

  • Aside from work and recreation, what is really important to you?
  • If you didn’t have to work, what would you do with your time?
  • If time and money were no object, what would you do?
  • What in the past has made you the happiest?
  • If you were given 5 minutes to talk with the President, what would you say?
  • If you had a month to live, what would you do?
  • If you could do X all over again, what would you do differently?

Of course, the best way to engage is to continually and respectfully ask questions to guide the conversation. The person doing all the talking isn’t the one guiding the direction of the conversation. The person asking the right questions can guide the conversation. In the conversation, use and weave in “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where,” and “Why.”).

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