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Is Asking "What Do You Do?" Rude?

Rude or Routine: The "What Do You Do?" Question

The What do you do? question is so commonplace that many people don't blink an eye when it's asked. However, according to Carolyn Gregoire, a Huffington Post editor, it's a conversation killer when you first meet someone. Gregoire writes:

"We tend to drop this heavy question into conversation before almost anything else has been said, as a way to quickly gather information and start forming an image of the person we're speaking with. While the inquiry might seem harmless, it perpetuates a dangerous habit: the tendency to associate who we are with what we do."

Although it may be a question that's welcomed by those who are employed and love what they do, it can be one that's dreaded by those who are jobless, don't like what they do, or just don't want to talk shop outside the office.

Now, it's not to say that you can never ask that question, but some commenters say it's more fitting to have that topic come up organically and not immediately after you meet someone for the first time. However, you might argue that it's a commonplace question and that people really shouldn't overthink it. What say you: is asking someone what they do rude or routine when you're first getting to know someone?

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Nancy-Einhart Nancy-Einhart 2 years
I think Americans ask this question way more than Europeans.
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