“What do you do?” is a question humans often hear. It’s a new acquaintance’s favorite ice breaker because it’s socially acceptable, easy to answer, and easy to process. Doctor. Carpenter. Businessman. Homemaker. Forget and move on.
Problem is, we are so much more than our occupation, even workaholics (although they might not realize it if wholly absorbed by their trade). The better question to ask when meeting new people is this: “What do you like to do?” Asking that will give you a truer glimpse of who someone is, because what we think about and do under no obligation is a better indicator of who we really are.
In instances when people ask me “what I do,” I try to steer the conversation to more interesting topics. “I write magazine articles for a living,” I often answer, “but in my spare time I enjoy riding longboards, lugging my family to national parks, rooting for cougars and seahawks, cooking and discussing food, enjoying the Provo River trail, and working on my body.”
Not really, but you get the idea. I’ve found that when I answer with a condensed or more timely version of the above — for instance, “I just finished a fascinating course on the meaning of life” — the small talk in my life becomes big, more interesting, and increases the chances of a social connection.
In turn, or if I initiate the ice breaking, I always lead with: “What do you like to do?” Often times people are taken aback by this, so I have to prime them for a response. Either way, the more interesting people usually have the best answers, and it often leads to new friendships, new offline adventures, and at the very least, better conversation.
How do you highlight your non-professional exploits?—Blake Snow