Source | LinkedIn : By Ronen Shefer
Here in the United States it is quite common to meet someone in the airport, on a plane, in a convention center, in an elevator, waiting in line, etc. for a couple of strangers to come together and begin a conversation. Within a few minutes they have said the normal hello, how are you?, maybe talked a little about the weather and then comes “what is it you do for a living?” Here in the U.S., which is not this way around the world as some countries find this offensive, we inquire about what the other person does for a living as it gives us information about the person, or does it?
Why do we work for a living? We work as a way to provide services to our community/society in return for money to support ourselves and our families. It is a contribution of our talents/services to our society at large for the betterment of our community. Inquiring about what someone does for a living provides people with 2 pieces of information 1) a topic that will involve a longer conversation while showing genuine interest in the persons work life (as personal inquiries as to family, where they live, etc. seems rude to many as it is personal) and 2) for some, not the majority, it shows the persons possible status and how much money they make (again, not all people will ask for this reason, and this is why other countries avoid this questions and yet it is the third thing we ask strangers in the U.S.). So we find out what the person does and it provides us with a vision or mental snapshot of the person and what they do for possibly 40 hours of their week. But what does it tell us about the person?
In reality finding out what someone does for a living, while it can provide some generalized information, it does not tell us anything really about the person. Let’s say you find out the person you were talking to is a lawyer. You automatically put into your mind all that you know about the profession and label that person with that title/occupation (might even include stereotypes of the occupation which can be positive or negative). You may even judge the person based off of others you have met with that same occupation. But WE ALL KNOW what we do is not WHO we are.
WHAT WE DO are the actions that we take to achieve our ultimate goals of the person within to serve others in some way while providing for our lives and the lives of our families. WHO WE ARE is what is behind the reason we chose what we did for a living.
Consider the importance of showing people WHO YOU ARE when you meet them, not just what you DO for a living. WHO YOU ARE is the person who follows his/her passions, strengths, talents, feelings, and interests. Do not be afraid to tell people that you chose to become a lawyer, as an example, because you had the need within to make a difference in fighting crimes against children, or that you chose to become a consultant because it broke your heart when you saw so many good hardworking men and women close their businesses after years of trying so very hard, sacrificing everything, because they did not have a place to turn for affordable solutions and help fixing the issues within their companies before it was too late. It is WHO YOU ARE behind what you do that becomes apparent. THIS is where trust and human connection happens.