“What do you do?” doesn’t always create the best environment for getting to know who someone really is. In the case that someone’s job isn’t their calling or what they feel like talking about, let’s switch things up and ask some different questions.
“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.” — Thomas Moore
“So, what do you do?”
It’s a question that inspires inward eye rolls and half-hearted responses from many people. When I’m asked this or, even worse, when I’m about to ask it, I can’t help but feel slightly stuck and dull or, better yet, just plain annoyed.
I’m craving real connection that stems from genuine enthusiasm, appreciation, and vulnerability.
Even though it may be the case for you, the source of a person’s paycheck might not be their source of inspiration. (If it’s yours, that’s wonderful!) Then there’s the chance that the person is currently in between jobs and, if that’s the case, the best way to begin an uncomfortable conversation is to ask “What do you do?”
The right questions give us so much more room to explore who someone is and what they love. They can give direction and lead us into topics that we’d otherwise be shut off from by simply asking “What do you do?”
Invite people to tell a story and talk about what they love. Put your heart out there and take a risk by asking something a little outside of what’s expected. Get purposeful, be curious, open your mind to new perspectives, and listen.
Please, listen. (Isn’t that what we all want, to be seen and heard?)
Be there for someone, whether or not you know their story. Get to know at least a piece of their story. Chances are you’ll find something that intrigues you. If not, challenge yourself to loosen your expectations, dive deeper into the present moment with a person, and let your heart be a bit more expansive.
You certainly don’t need to ask all of the questions listed below; this is more of a menu than a to-do list, and it’s certainly not a complete list. Pick what suits your style and try it out next time you meet someone new.
You never know who your next friend will be…
Here’s to more fulfilling connections, inspiring conversations, and memorable first-impressions.
24 Alternatives to Asking “What Do You Do?”
1. What do you love to do?
2. What do you like to do for fun?
3. What’s your favorite way to spend your time?
4. What or who influenced you to do the work you do today?
5. If money wasn’t a concern, how would you spend your time?You know what’s beautiful? Wholehearted connections born of conversation where both people are present, curious, open, and real. tell the world
6. What are you most grateful for right now?
7. Is there anything you’re looking forward to right now?
8. What are you excited about?
9. Are you working on any exciting new projects?
10. What’s the best thing that happened to you today/this week?
11. Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
12. Where in the world would you like to visit next?
13. What’s one thing you’d like to happen within the next year?
14. If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
15. Who is your greatest role model?“Sometimes the greatest adventure is simply a conversation.” — Amadeus Wolfe tweet this
16. If you could assign one word or phrase to this year, what would it be?
17. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
18. What mantra or philosophy do you try to live your life by?
19. What positive changes are you proud of making in your life?
20. What habits help you stay productive/creative?
21. What are 3 words your friends would use to describe you?
22. How do you know the host?
23. Where did you grow up?
24. What’s your favorite way to help others?
25. What’s your favorite way to enjoy/thing to do this season?
What do you do?
What do you love to talk about?
What’s the best conversation you’ve had recently where you learned something unexpected about someone?
Share what you love and what you’ve learned, your favorite questions to ask or answer, which of these questions you’d like to use to make your next connection, and any stories with me in the comments.
Share these alternatives with a friend and spread the joy.
Talk about what makes you come alive—your dreams, your blessings, your lessons, your people.