Why we should stop asking people “what do you do” as the first question.
Hi. My name is Melissa. I DO a lot of things. What do you want to know? What are you really asking with that question? How about we rephrase our first questions and really get to know each other, be more creative and you’ll probably get a more personal answer.
Does your work define you or do you define your work? To me asking the question “What do you do?” right after asking someone there name is putting a lot of importance on their job or how they make money. It automatically starts comparing us on a socioeconomic level whether you want to admit it or not. You start thinking are they a future client or can I get their business. What can they do for me?
Personally, I don’t want to be defined by my job or my socioeconomic status because I do a lot of things. It’s hard for me to know how to answer that question. I design. I run. I drink bourbon. I travel. I read. I take photos. I help entrepreneurs. But asking “what do you do?” is often pigeon holing me into only one answer. So I usually try to counter “what do you do?” with “I do a lot of things” or better yet “I’m passionate about x?”. Let’s rethink our first interactions with people and make them more fun and interesting. Let’s talk about our win’s and our passions. Which may or may not be related to work or how you get paid.
What lights you up?
That’s a great first question to ask people! Along with, “what are you passionate about?”. “What are you looking forward to this week” or this year.
What would you do if money was no object? If you are one of the lucky ones, this is also your “job”. You get to do what lights you up every day of the year.
I also compare “what do you do” to a client telling me they want a postcard. I can accept that they want a postcard or I can dig deeper and see why they want a postcard. What is the driver for it? What is the problem they are trying to solve? With those questions I feel you can really get somewhere.