Originally Posted @ Buffer
I love the little traditions that develop organically at Buffer. One of them is to welcome each new teammate with a long email chain of happiness that begins with that person’s introduction.
More often than not, the introduction has a certain ratio:
I love this 1:2 ratio because it speaks to a simple truth we strive to recognize as a team: We are more than our jobs.
As much as we may love working, it can’t be the thing that defines us fully.
At Buffer, we’ve been focused lately on bringing our “whole selves” to work—our passions and strengths, flaws and vulnerabilities, hobbies and pet projects.
This can be quite contrary to the way most businesses are run, where you might be expected to check your personal life at the door. And it’s led to some extraordinary insights and closeness.
And yet, I haven’t quite been able to take this knowledge to heart in my interactions with others.
I’m a bit of an introvert in social situations, and my natural instinct when I meet new people is that old fallback, “What do you do?”
I’ve long had an inkling that this question doesn’t always create the best environment to really get to know someone, and Geekwire explains a few reasons why:
One way to break out of the mold and have more authentic conversations might be to prime ourselves with lots of alternatives to The Question.
Here are quite a few—some are only minor deviations from “What do you do?” while others spin off in an entirely new direction.
The key, according to Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker, authors of What to Talk About: On a Plane, at a Cocktail Party, in a Tiny Elevator with Your Boss’s Boss, is to ask an open-ended question. Their advice?
“Aim for questions that invite people to tell stories, rather than give bland, one-word answers.”
I’m looking forward to giving all 27 of these a try. Here’s to better, deeper, more fulfilling conversations!
What questions do you like to ask as an alternative (or addition) to “What do you do?” I’d love to add your choice to our list!
Oh, and for even more tips on winning friends and communicating with ease, check out:
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