The most boring yet most perpetuated question in the world

“What do you do?”

Well, since you asked, I do a lot.  Sometimes I do the dishes.  I also do my budget.  I watch Parenthood.  Oh, and I spend the majority of time doing something every week that earns an income and allows me to pay my bills.

Think about the contexts in which we most often encounter this question: they’re social, right?  No one at work is asking, obviously.  How many people are so thrilled by what they spend their entire week doing that they can’t wait to talk about it on the weekends?

I’m not trying to be negative here.  I am arguably one of the most non negotiable people when it comes to being happy in your work.  I’m hopelessly (or hopeFULLy?) committed to the belief in making a living doing something you love.

I’m all for people who have found work they love gushing to the rest of us.  By all means, inspire us.  Tell me every detail.  But many of us are in between jobs, working a “day” job, or just ready to talk about something else after 40+ hours of whatever it is we do.

I’m just as guilty as the next girl for asking the boring question.  I wish I could think of something more creative, and have the boldness to follow through.

“Patrick?  Great to meet you, I’m Jacey.  What’s your deepest fear?”  Somehow I just don’t see that going over well.

I would equally love to have a cheeky answer that would throw the other person completely off guard, like Chief Happiness Officer or something.  Okay, that’s not really true.  What makes me most uncomfortable is making other people uncomfortable.

In reality, I often mention my husband’s career, because it’s more interesting and I like talking about him more than talking about myself.

Doesn’t it seem like there are a lot of careers you’ve never heard of these days?  Half the time I’m asking someone a question he doesn’t really want to answer, and then I don’t understand the answer, so follow up questions become really difficult.  Maybe this line of conversation was more effective before people got creative with their titles and anyone who paid $10 for shipping could order free business cards from Vistaprint.

It would be pretty great if, as a culture, we could start more meaningful conversations more quickly.  I think asking questions people want to answer would be a great start.

Question:  If I were to meet you at a party tomorrow, what would you want me to ask?

4 thoughts on “The most boring yet most perpetuated question in the world

  1. I would like to be asked questions with a forced positive answer, such as “What is your favorite thing to do in your free time” or “Let me ask you, what is your favorite restaurant in town”?

  2. “What do you do for fun? or What do you do when you’re not working?” If you know them already, something more personal, like how’s your son, what are you doing for work outs now, who does your hair cuz it looks great, etc? I like your blog.

  3. I like Melly’s idea. I often go to “networking” events as I continue to grow my business, so the “most boring… question” is omnipresent. In fact, I’m going to one tonight, so I’m going to take the “What do you do when you’re NOT working” question for a serious test drive. I think it’ll be fun, something like when Harrison Ford tells Melanie Griffith at the party in Working Girl… well, if you haven’t seen it, watch it. No, I won’t tell you what they said, dang it. You’ll have to find out for yourself. So there.

  4. lol @ the vacuous replies. All your ideas are just variations of “what do you do?” You don’t really get her point.

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