The problem with asking “what do you do?”

Me in 2011 on top of the Devil’s Marbles, a rock formation in the Australian Outback.

Lots of people have written about the importance of not letting your job title define you and I am finally chiming in. After recently reading the blink of a book called Minimalism, which argues among other things that each person is far more than just her profession, I realized I myself am guilty of asking people I meet the annoying question, “what do you do?”

When I’m asked this question, I end up simply saying “I’m a journalist” despite the fact I feel this is only one aspect to me. What I really want to say is something along the lines of “I’m an all around creative person and storyteller who is passionate about a lot of things, especially diversity, innovation and design. Oh, and I also love food, working out, exploring, blah blah blah blaaaah.”

Instead of the dreaded “what do you do?” intro, from now on when I meet new faces I’ll put forth open-ended questions like “what are you into?” or  “what excites you right now?” Definitely something to consider if you, too, have asked the former before without realizing your speaking partner felt he was being put into a tiny box and forced to give a narrow definition of himself.

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