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Does It Bother You When Strangers Ask What You Do?

When we're out meeting new people a common question spoken in the first few minutes of conversation is, "What do you do?" It's of course referring to how you spend the majority of your days, and I know some who find the question to be bothersome. They don't want to be defined by their jobs and prefer their work doesn't dominate other's immediate perceptions of them. How do you feel about the question when a stranger is asking?


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Ryot Ryot 9 years
I'm with imLissy: I love when people ask, and I love talking about what I do for a living. But I have a rare job (and one that's extremely unusual for a woman), so some people actually find it interesting. Well, most guys find it very interesting, and most women stop talking to me shortly thereafter, lol. Most women that have actually continued talking to me past that point have become long-term friends!
thelorax thelorax 9 years
The question is harmless small talk, but the answer depends on your comfort level...mine tends to be low with strangers (why do you wanna know, STALKER??!) so I tend to be cryptic. :-)
ChimericGirl ChimericGirl 9 years
I'm not yet in the career I aspire to (I need to go to grad school first) and I'm currently completing pre-requisite course work and applying to grad school. I'm excited about my future career as an occupational therapist, so I like talking to people about that. But as far as what I do for money-I'm working as a waitress which ain't exactly something that boosts my ego. I agree with rocketgirl...people send off vibes whether they are interested in your potential money/prestige, hoping to network, or are just genuinely interested in your life. I know that a few people who've found out I'm "just" a waitress have dismissed me for not being a salaried corporate young urban professional. But I don't exactly mesh with those types anyway, so no harm no foul :)
rocketgirl rocketgirl 9 years
It depends on the person asking, and the vibes they send me.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
being in NYC - it's a common question that people ask, so it usually doesn't bother me. i think that if someone is trying to make themself feel better than you becuase of what they do - then i mind it but otherwise, it's just something to talk about.
seems-suga seems-suga 9 years
I was going to add, when I'm around my brother and his friends they always talk about what people do for a living and how much money they make. They are all black jack dealers so they make loads of money. When I say I'm in the education field, they say "ohhh so you don't make any money" and change the subject, go back to talking money excluding me from the conversation, or pat me on the back and say " I wish I could do something like that for so little money but I would never be able to own a home or drive this car or go on vacations" blah blah blah. I get tired of that. So I don't hang out with my bro that much.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
MindayH, i'm the same! i went to school for many a year to prepare for my current job, and i'm proud to have a professional Master's, so knowing me means knowing what i do!
bingkaycoy bingkaycoy 9 years
it doesn't bother me because that's my "conversation starter" for networking and sales pitching. Most jobs now entail a lot of networking so this shouldn't be a big deal.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
jjuliet it is considered rude in Europe to ask what people do to a lot of people it is the same as asking how much money you make. Most guidebooks even tell you never to discuss it.
citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
It doesn't bother me at all. I think its a good conversation piece especially when you are talking to someone you either just met or don't know very well. If I were embarrassed by what I did for a living then I probably wouldn't do it ;) But I can see it also being a shallow trying to figure out how much someone makes, etc. I know bartenders and waitresses that make more than I do in real estate!
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
It doesn't really bother me as most of the people who've asked this are usually friends of friends who are around my age and it's a great talking point for both of us, especially when we've just been introduced. It helps you get to know a person, but doesn't necessarily define them.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I hate that question because I'm currently unemployed and I've never had a job worth bragging about. Who wants to reply "I work at Wal-mart?"
seems-suga seems-suga 9 years
I have been a stay at home mom for a year now and when I tell people that's what I do. They say "ahhh" and then change the subject. Like it's not a real job. Or they proceed to tell me maybe I should go to college and I'm like uh yeah I graduated from college already. I had this guy ask me the other day at the grocery store what I did and after I told him he asked me if I was on food stamps because he wanted some answers about EBT. WTF?!
murdock99tx murdock99tx 9 years
When strangers ask me stuff that I find a bit intrusive, I don't feel compelled to tell them. ESPECIALLY when a male stranger asks me, "Where do you live?" ! I'm like, uh, DUDE! I'm not about to tell you where I live! But I just answer, "Oh, here & there." LOL My gf died laughing (out of the guy's line of vision) when I said that to a guy the other night. Other potential answers for that: "I'm homeless." "In Matthew McCoughnahey's trailer home." "I just have a cot at work & rinse up in the ladies' room in the mornings."
jJuliet jJuliet 9 years
Is it really rude to ask this in Europe?
stargrrl stargrrl 9 years
It doesn't generally bother me but I understand that's because if you grew up in the US that asking about another's career is considered okay. However, outside of the US, particularly in some parts of Europe and elsewhere, I have to remind myself that it's considered rude. When I meet new people I generally try to take a little time to gauge the person and where they're from before I ask lest I appear ill-mannered.
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 9 years
i only mind this question when i'm unemployed. ha.
jJuliet jJuliet 9 years
I love my job, so it doesn't bother me when people ask. It is kind of annoying that very few people have heard of what I do, and when they hear the name, they assume that I am an artist, not a scientist. If I try to explain what I do, they lose interest after about 5 seconds.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
For me it depends on what the situation is. When you are just meeting someone in a bar I think it is really rude because it does have the implication of how much do you make. I never thought much about it until I was living in NYC and a friend I went out with asked every person we met what they did for a living. I finally had a guy say to me that he thought it was really rude to ask him a question like that after only just meeting. It is not necessarily that I mind discussing work but being in fashion/apparel people will constantly ask if I can get them stuff for free or get them into a certain company's employee store.
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
I am not offended when people ask me, but I definitely do feel the need to preface my answer with the fact that I will not be holding this occupation (ever again!) after the month of June. :)
emalove emalove 9 years
I don't mind.
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
It's totally a natural question- plus, I dont mind telling!
looseseal looseseal 9 years
It was kind of an awkward question back when I was unemployed. But now that I started a business, it's practically an invitation to a sales pitch. So be aware (or beware?) that that's what you might get for asking someone that question.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
I can't imagine getting annoyed about it. If you don't want to talk about it, just be vague. I'm too regularly amused by the people I work with to not talk about it. :)
MindayH MindayH 9 years
I spend enough time at work that I would be offended if someone didn't want to know! Aside from the 55 hours a week I am at work, plus commuting to work, I like to do this...Not to mention the years of schooling that laid the foundation for my job - not knowing what I do means that you will not really know me.
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