The question, ‘What do you do?’, whilst useful to some degree, is arguably the most boring, cliched, monotonous, tedious, uninspiring, uncreative, monotonous, monotonous, monotonous question ever to leave the lips of a human being — many human beings, unfortunately. Yes, it may benefit you to know that your conversation partner is a computer programmer, graphic designer, event coordinator, IT manager, bank collections agent, secretary, etc, but what does this do for conversation, for promoting connection, for the energy, for fertilising the seeds of potential friendship? In most cases, nothing.
If you’re attending a meetup, conference, or speaking to someone in the pub, and you ask them, ‘So… what do you do for a living?’, in most cases, you’re immediately placed in the ‘oh it’s going to be one of those conversations’ category, in the mind of the other. Likely, he/she will say I’m an [fill in the blank], and then flip the question back on you — and so it goes, until the shallow conversation reaches it’s inevitable, sorry end. How different it could be? How rare is the person who does something different; who asks a unique, unsettling, funny, un-herd-like, question that either immediately breaks the ice, or lines it up so that the answer cannot help but break it. Why have the same conversation as everyone else, when you can have a much more engrossing, deep, engaging, hilarious and potentially very fruitful one?
Posing different introductory questions and/or returning equally as unconventional answers is almost guaranteed to light up the dialect, create an instant connection, and will therefore lead to a significantly more enjoyable conversation. Yes, you may get some pushbacks and immediate turn-offs on the part of the other, but so what? — those who you do connect with, you will connect with. Though it deserves much more discussion, we have necessarily arrived at the talking point of deeper and fewer relationships versus shallower and many relationships. Being against-the-grain in the way you go about about conversation (this does not mean, it must be said, be an ignoramus or nincompoop, which is stupid and necessary) is all about the former — about having a richer communication, and hopefully therefore, deeper understanding of one another.
There is only so much a person will reveal to you in 2-3 minutes of conversation, which appear to be the average window of opportunity in meetup, conference, and non-orgie party environments. Things like speed-working and speed-dating, in my opinion, are borderline useless; unless you’re trying to get better at socialising (in which the constant and intimate exposure can do miracles do break down ones social anxieties or inadequacies), they are a pitiful waste of time, for the simple reason that they are shallow. Yes, you could strike up a conversation after the ‘speed’ event, but this is circumnavigating around leaves on the ground: rather dumb, if you have not a phobia of leaves. First impressions are not everything, but they are crucial; plus, what are the after chances of you striking up a conversation with that person who sounded so interesting? Little to none, actually — especially if other people, too, found her interesting…
The upshot: if you want rewarding, inspiring and great relationships, pursue depth. Of course, pursuing depth, is not just a philosophy for communication, but one for life; pursuing depth not only in your conversations, but in the intellectual, physical, and spiritual aspects of your life will do wonderful things that you cannot at the moment fathom.
To finish, in celebration of the multitude of senses of humour in the world, I am going to finish with answers to the question we started with, ‘What do you do, then?’. And about questions you can ask, well, I will give you only one great conversation starter: ‘What is your favourite thing in the whole world?’ Such a question is new, different, energised, fun; most of all, though, it has potential — which the majority of conversation starters do not, not to mention the conversations themselves.
What do you do?
I am a hand model. You know the pages in the catalogue for rings and bracelets — yeah, I do those. My hand is award winning.
I run a website… an adult website… yeah, we sell dildos, strapons and vintage sex toys.
I write and direct porn movies.
I’m a salesman/woman… selling adult diapers and sudocrem… You’d be surprised at the market!
I test condoms/vaginal rings.
I work with my Father… he’s retired.
I masturbate animals for science…
I milk cows for Yeo Valley.
I build spaceships.
I untangle headphones.1
I’m a drug dealer… a pharmacist.
I do drugs.
I shoot birds at the airport.
I spy…. ‘What! You’re a spy?’ … No, do you want to play I spy?
I work for arguably the most successful company in the world… (add what you will to keep this going for as long as you dare) … McDonalds.
I am anti-work.
Feel free to tell us what you do, below.