“What do you do?” & Other Terrible Questions

“”How many people out there are living their career dreams? According to studies & my own observations on social media, not many.

Work, for a bunch of people, sucks.

Some people may be good at their jobs, some even like them, but they’re not defined by them. And the ones who are proud about their jobs will bring them up somehow. If they do, inquire more—they obviously want to talk about it.

Otherwise, keep the question—“What do you do?”—in the deck. Or, better yet, throw it in the trash.

That question sucks. It’s impersonal. It’s boring. It’s indicates that the asker judges people based on their jobs (which isn’t always indicative of who someone is), and that’s not a great first step in making a genuine connection.

And that’s the greatest possibility with conversations: making connections. There are better ways to get to know people, better questions & conversational sequeways that show emotional intelligence & true curiosity.

This occurred to me because of a memory that has been stuck under my skin for MONTHS…

After a fashion show for which my S.O. and her fellow stylists did hair, a few of us went down the street for celebratory drinks & to revel in the energy of the evening.

“”We were sitting around tables on the rooftop patio when we were joined by a guy whose self-appreciation was palpable (oh, and a few of his lackeys). He immediately struck up a conversation, and I shut down (as I tend to do when people bring weird energy around).

I could tell that he wasn’t as interested in everybody as he was interested in getting us interested in him. Youknowthetype.

Turns out, to no surprise, the guy wanted us to know who he was & what he did. I say that because he asked that garbage question: ”So, what does everyone do?”

Three of the five of us were stylists. Then, there was me. And one of my stylist-friend’s husband, who is a manager at WalMart.

My insides curdled when it was his turn to answer. I knew what these uppity Dallasites were about to do.

As soon as he said the store name, our new “friend” fell strangely silent. He was judging. Then, of course, came all the “evil corporations” talk… Ahh, I see you watch documentaries on Netflix.

I was so turned off. It was really gross.

My friend The Manager wasn’t even fazed. He probably made more than any of us at that table that night, if that’s the metric they were judging.

He worked hard to get that job, which shows character.

He provided for his family, and had benefits to help them stay happy & healthy. Nothing to Thumb your nose at.

Not to mention, he’s just a kick-ass dude.

But, that trash can question went & made the conversation suck.

While we’re tossing out that one, take these horribly lame questions to the dump, too:

  • What’s your story?
  • How was your day? or What’d you do today? [schoolkids everywhere rejoice]
  • Tell me about yourself… so lame, not a conversation starter, not even a question.

Ask these questions instead

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