Ask a better question.
“So… what do you do?”
I am not a fan of this question. It usually has a short simple answer that may not light up the person you are talking to.
Today there are so many opportunities for people to BE and DO many things at once. I have friends that spend their energy serving nonprofits, missions, writing, competing in athletic events, engaged in their children’s activities, coaching business start ups, and so much more beyond the standard vocational answer.
I’ve met some people this year that I’ve had the pleasure getting to know and it was a few months before I found out what they did M-F during the day. I still don’t know that about some of my new friends. We connect on other passions and interests.
And if you are singularly focused around your vocation, it’s probably a passion, not something you simply “do”. You share your passion. Your a leader or expert in that field and go way beyond the expected response to this simple question.
I have a dear aunt and uncle who sail. They have worked at various jobs as long as I’ve know them, but their passion is being on the water in a boat. In their free time, you will find them on a lake, river, ocean. I love this about them and inspired that they have continued this passion through all the ups and downs that life can deliver. They share this passion and gift with others around them, including their family.
Here are some of my favorite questions to ask people as I meet them or get to know them better.
What do you read?
What do you dream about?
What would you do if money were not an obstacle?
What would you do if you had a year of “free time”?
Who’s your favorite artist at the moment? (leave it to them whether they say performing or visual artist)
Do you have a hobby or craft? Did you at one time? What would you like to try?
What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
These are questions that bring about a smile. You can discover what makes them happy, excited and probably learn something new about your community, an issue or hobby.
Or they might be stumped because no one has ever asked that question before. That’s OK. Let them think about it. You also may help them uncover something they haven’t thought about in some time.
I am not knocking our regular vocations. I am inspired watching my friends who have matched their passion to their work and make an amazing impact through their personal leadership and expertise.
We are interesting people with passions, hobbies, dreams and goals. Ask a deeper question and you will find a more fascinating conversation. You may even unlock a dream.