What I’d Rather Hear About than Your Job
When meeting new people, it seems the default question of “What do you do?” comes up shortly after names are exchanged. Our jobs become our definitions. However, only a lucky few who are truly passionate about what they do for a living welcome such a definition.
“What we do” is not always “who we are.” With the noted exception of those fortunate few who love their jobs, asking what someone does provokes, at best, a neutral, pre-packaged response.
There are other things I’d rather hear about.
1. What you are reading. As an avid reader (be my friend on GoodReads!), I love to hear about, talk about, obsess about books. I read thrillers, novels, personal essays. I dabble in poetry collections. I fill my home with books and pass good ones along to whoever I think would enjoy them. Tell me about the last great book you read. Tell me about the recent article you read in the newspaper, a magazine, or online that changed your thinking about foreign policy, menswear, or drapery pleats. Reading makes you interesting, and everyone loves to hear from interesting people.
2. Where you’re headed. I’m always planning my next trip – be it real or imaginary. I like to ask people where they’d go if they could jump on a plane right this minute and go anywhere, all expenses paid. My own answer to this question changes frequently. I want to go to Quebec, Istanbul, Mumbai, St. Petersburg. I want to see much of South America and Africa. I want to ski wherever I can. I’d love to hear about upcoming vacations, past vacations, or fantasy vacations. Distance doesn’t matter.
3. What you’re eating. My boyfriend is quite the chef. Prior to him, I had no real appreciation for the culinary world. Now, I have a cabinet full of spices and cookware. I’m slowly learning to love food – preparing it, eating it, and talking about it. Going to a great restaurant? Have a wonderful meal the other week? Love cooking at home? Peeved about Top Chef? Please share!
4. What you do. If your job is your passion, I’d love to hear about it – even if I have no real understanding of what it is. Listening to people talk about their passions is fascinating. The other night, I joyfully eavesdropped on my sister as she discussed chemistry with a mutual friend. I’ve never heard two people so pumped about Tungsten. Your passion may not be your job, but, for most of us, your job is not all that you do. Tell me about your hobbies. Tell me about your weekend plans.
People’s jobs can be fascinating. People’s jobs can be boring. Unless they are enthusiastic about it, I’d rather talk about something else.