“What do you do?” is the most common question people ask when they meet someone new. What do you think about these four words? How do they make you feel..as you ask the question or as someone asks it of you? It’s very limiting, narrowly focused and impersonal. Let’s analyze this question:
What is directed to what the person does, not who the person is.
Do is career focused and reflects an interest only in position and status. When you meet someone who is in transition or between jobs, or does not work, you put that person in an awkward position. Without thinking, the question could be demeaning to the other person. Let’s create a mind shift and change this phrase to “Tell me about yourself.”
Tell me encourages action; you want to hear about that person.
Yourself The focus is on the other person…not just the person’s career…what a concept!
Try this the next time you attend a function. You will be surprised by the responses. People will be delighted that you are interested in them. As you say this new phrase, remember:
- It focuses on the other person, not on you
- It allows you more topics to discuss
- It provides the other person with a choice of what to discuss
Networking is about building relationships, not just collecting business cards. When you see people at future events, they will know you are interested in them, not just their title or job function.