Thursday, January 26, 2012

11 Better Questions To Ask Than “What Do You Do?”


I think one of the problems is that we all attempt to, or allow ourselves to be, defined by our work. We think we have to stay in miserable, unhappy jobs just because it is a status thing, or that we think this is what society expects.
I say bunk. No doubt, it is a lot harder (for me at least) to run my own business and have to eat what I kill. Sure, bills would be easier to pay with a regular paycheck, but I hated life like that. I love being on my own, responsible to myself, and flexible to do work that matters to me. It is a tough slog, but I love the battle.
But I think we are responsible for this predicament. What is the first thing we usually ask someone we meet for the first time?
“So…what do you do?”
Does asking this question subconsciously tell people that we expect an answer to be some formal, society-approved job? Maybe so.
So, here is what I propose. Instead of leading off with the standard “what do you do?” question, from now on, let’s start with these:
What do you love to do?
What are you reading?
What do you want to learn?
Tell me about your family?
What do you want to be known for?
What big, hairy challenge are you striving to achieve?
If you wrote the great American novel, what would it be about?
Would you rather be a writer, artist, or musician?
Where would you go if you could travel anywhere?
What would you do if you were president for a day?
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
I don’t know about you, but I personally find the answers to these questions to be a lot more meaningful, and a lot more telling about a person than how they spend nine to five.
What do you think? What other questions would you want to ask?
[drawing by hugh macleod]

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