Here’s a really quick way to become a much more interesting person. Imagine you meet someone for the first time and they ask the question “tell me, what do you do for a living?” You know for sure that within just a few minutes of your reply (sometimes even seconds) the questioner’s eyes will start to wander around the room and there will be that embarrassing and depressing moment when you realize that you are boring them. So here’s what to do.
Let’s assume you work in a bank, in this case you will most likely answer the “what do you do for a living question?” with “I work in a bank” or even “I am an area manager of a national bank”. In either case you know for sure that this is not going to hold the questioner’s attention and you might even get a rude and unwelcome comment in reply. So, my advice is to try answering it this way:
“I look after other people’s money. In fact just the other week we had a customer on the phone that had been burgled while on a business trip in Tunisia. He had no money, no ID and he desperately needed to get back home. Well we found a way to advance him some cash via his hotel, got him to the airport and helped him on his way.” This answer is very likely to encourage a much more positive response, with a likely follow up question “and what is this wonderful organization you work for?”
Notice I answered a ‘what’ question (‘what do you do for a living) with a ‘why’ answer that explains just one reason why the bank is there (ie to help people). I also immediately backed up my answer with a little ‘how’ story to illustrate it. I also added: ‘just the other week’ and ‘we’ instead of ‘now’ and ‘I’. This is only because I am assuming that a story like this does not happen every day or even to every bank employee. Whatever the answer, it is the story that matters, as it gives meaning to the existence of the bank and the importance of what you and your colleagues do. Here’s some other examples:
Project Manager = ‘I help realize my client’s dreams and ambitions’
Taxi Driver = ‘I take people wherever they want to go’
Software engineer = ‘I write complex mathematical algorithms that allow machines to do useful things”
But what if you are one of the lucky few and your job really is exciting and interesting and you cannot be bothered to answer it in detail for the millionth time? Then try this:
“And what is it you do for a living exactly?” “I am an astronaut.” “Wow that must be exciting?” “No, not really, mostly it’s just hanging around waiting for something to happen. And when it does you’re strapped into a seat for days on end just staring at a set of dials. Even the view isn’t that much because they make the windows so small that only one person can just about see out of them, and even then, mostly there’s not so much to look at anyway”.
Have a good week,