You arrive at a party, a work function, a happy hour, a new class at the gym, and inevitably, someone will ask you, “What do you do?”
What do you do? What do you do? What do you do?
We want to know a profession before a pronoun; we want to know about paychecks before we care about a name.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in it all , to define a human by their career. To put a profession to a person and make that who, and what, they are — that’s easier than digging deeper. It’s easier than asking questions, taking the time to listen, and taking the time to sit and have a conversation with another human.
It is a blessing to be able to say that you are passionate about your work. To have work that excites you, ignites you, and makes getting out of bed in the morning a joyful act. That is glorious. That is special.That is something to be treasured. But even with all of that, you must remember that you are not your job. Your job is merely part of you.
People are not professions.
Professions cannot show you the depths of someone soul, the inner workings of their heart, the bits and pieces of dreams that live inside their head. Just because you know someone’s profession doesn’t mean you know how they parent, how they love their friends, how they show up for their family, how they interact with strangers on the street.
People are more than there titles.
I was listening to a podcast between Lewis Howes and Maria Shriver when they said something so simple, yet extraordinary — instead of asking someone what do they do, ask them what excites them. Ask them what they’re grateful for.
Ask people what excites them and watch how their eyes will light up and how their dreams will pour out. See how your conversation will then start, ebb, and flow. Ask people what they’re grateful for and you’ll see how their hearts open, how their palms open, and how they’ll outstretch their arms to take you into their fold.
People are more than their professions, so stop preemptively painting a story of one that you don’t fully know and ask questions that dig beneath the title.
Unsure of how to start the conversation?
Here are 25 conversation starters to ask besides, “What do you do?”
1. What excites you?
2. What are you grateful for?
3. Where do you want to travel?
4. Who do you hope to be when you’re 80 years old?
5. What books are permanently on your bookshelf?
6. If you had to pick 12 songs to depict your life journey thus far, what would they be?
7. What fictional character is most like your personality?
8. What fictional character is least like your personality?
9. How do you celebrate the people you love?
10. What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received?
11. Who’s the greatest teacher you’ve ever had?
12. What’s the best way loved ones can show up for you?
13. Who grounds you?
14. What gives you hope?
15. How do you deal with darkness?
16. How do you ignite your light?
17. What season makes you happiest?
18. If you were stranded on a desert island with only Netflix and a screen (WiFi too), what would you watch and why?
19. What food do you find irresistible?
20. What characteristics do you find irresistible?
21. What kind of media do you consume?
22. How many hours a day do you spend on a screen?
23. If you had the choice between sleeping in and using dry shampoo or getting up earlier and showering, which would you choose?
24. Do you consider yourself a night owl or a morning person?
25. What are you celebrating at this moment in time?