By: Natasha Archary
So what do you do for a living? It’s one of those questions that often leaves people lost for words.
Standing in this afternoon on Kaya Drive is Kgomotso Meso who wanted to know how you feel when you’re asked, “What you do for a living?”
Listen to the responses from the Kaya Drive team here:
Some find it invasive and others feel like people only ask this question to “size one up” or out of habit, more than any real interest in what the person actually does for a living.
It’s a typical question many ask as a conversation starter, but unless at a work function, it can be interpreted as rather rude, and especially presumptuous in social settings like a date.
Geekwire explains a few reasons why you shouldn’t ask people “What do you do for a living?”
- It’s used to size people up and ranks your salary above all others in the get-to-know-you hierarchy.
- It assumes permanence and stability when our economy and values pave choppier paths.
- It pins your identity to a job instead of pinning a job to your bigger, evolving identity.
- It loads the resume, an automatic output time and again.
- The person may not have a job at the moment, which is awkward to explain in this context.
- The person may not care about what they do for a living but are now forced to tell you anyway.
It can be jarring when a complete stranger begins a conversation with such a question as it seems disingenuous. Same as with saying “Hi, How are you?” and the person does not genuinely want to know how you are; instead the expected reply is merely, “fine, and you?”.
It might be best to allow such a topic to organically come up and when the person ever feels the need to talk about their work themselves, then give them the opportunity to bring it up.
In social situations like at a party, it might be a little different where humour and light event topics might be discussed.
There’s more to life than what you do for a living and we are more than our jobs.
Here are 5 questions to ask instead:
- What are you most passionate about?
- What are you most excited about right now?
- What are you working on?
- What’s something you’re really into right now?
- How do you feel your life has worked out so far?