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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Everyday Conversations: A Dialogue

How many of your day-to-day conversations look like this?

If you said, 'many' or 'lots' or even 'just a few', chances are that you are using the 'same old, same old' social niceties in your conversation starters.  There are many of them... you know the ones: How are you? Crazy weather we're having hey? How about them (insert your local sports team here)?  and my personal favourite of these: What do you do?  
Don’t you just HATE that question?  Well, maybe hate is a strong word, but at the very least, aren’t you tired of it?  It is so predictable, such a boring ‘line’ in our social culture.  The worst part is, it doesn’t really tell you anything ABOUT the person.  I mean, sure, it might tell you how they spend some of their time, okay, maybe a lot of their time, but it sure isn’t very descriptive.  Take this conversation for example:
You: 'Hi’
Them: 'Hi there, nice to meet you’
You: 'You too’
blah, blah, blah (more social niceties until we get to the inevitable...)
You: ‘Oh and WHAT DO YOU DO?’
Them: ‘Oh, I’m an engineer’
You: ‘Uh huh.  My uncle is an engineer. 
(We always do this, don’t we? -- try and identify with what the person is saying by offering something, ANYTHING from our own personal reality). And then, maybe another question... 
You: 'What kind of engineer are you?’
Them: ‘Mechanical’
You: ‘Oh.  That’s nice.  I don’t know what kind of engineer my uncle is.’
You get the idea here right, BORING?!!!
I try soooo hard not to ask that question, at least not until I know all of the really interesting stuff about them first - like what they are passionate about and what gets them all fired up!  Wouldn’t you much rather have a conversation that goes like this:
You: ‘Hi’
Them: ‘Hi there.’
You: ‘So, I’m going to skip all of the social niceties and get right to the good stuff by asking you something totally off the wall... WHAT IS YOUR PASSION?’
 (I like to be up front about it).  
You will probably get some laughter:
LOL.  I don’t usually get asked that.  Hmmmm.... let me see.  I am going to have to think about that.’
(Seriously, people are so rarely asked this kind of question you are going to catch them off guard)
And then...
‘You know, I really, really love cats' (with a look of pure joy on their face and a twinkle in their eye)
And even if you don’t love cats (or ATVs or knitting or rock climbing or stamp collecting, or WHATEVER), at least you will be taking part in a conversation filled with excitement and flowing energy -- and that energy is often contagious!  Next thing you know you are off on a tangent of your own about how you are madly in love with your new gardening tools).    
And hey, if either of your passions just so happens to BE your career -- lucky you, and you get to talk about it if that is truly your passion.   Win-win!
As an aside, if ‘what is your passion’ is too fruity of a question for you - here are some other interesting questions to replace the one that you have been ‘trained’ to ask:
  • What is the best thing that you have ever done for yourself?
  • When was the last time that you belly laughed?
  • You got any cool scars?
  • What was the last thing you did that really scared you?  How did you feel after?
  • You got any funny nicknames?
  • If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • If you could spend the day with a famous dead person who would you choose?
And so, on and so forth.. until you enter into a conversation that looks more like this:

You decide, which conversation would you rather be having?

With much peace and love,


  1. Oh my... Personally, I HATE it when people ask me what I "do". I generally reply with something snarky like "As little as possible!" I mean really... must we define ourselves by our means of economic support?

    1. I hear you! And I thought you might have that opinion ;)

  2. Michael always asks people "What do you love to do," instead of what do you do. It's amazing to see people stumble on their answer because they are so used to answering what they do for a career... and you can see the people that don't love what they do for a career:)

    1. Wendy -- I LOVE this -- I am going to start asking that one too! It seems a bit more natural than, 'what is your passion!' -- that one has people looking at me sideways (which I secretly love). I am starting a coaching business in the interest of helping people FIND and FOLLOW their passion -- and yes, there are no shortage of potential clients out there :)