Conversation Killers : What Do You Do ? Where Do You Come From ?


FACE-CONFUSED-EXPRESSION

Picture: Huffington Post : Want To Kill A Conversation? Ask Someone What They Do

Imagine , you are at a networking event and you are new in town or never met anybody in the group before, you have butterflies in your stomach, when someone comes to you and ask :

What do you do ?  Like most people you might feel embarrassed to answer such a direct question, especially when you don’t have a “job”.

Is what someone does the most important information you need to engage a conversation anyway ?

Same apply to  ‘Where do you come from? ” If you want to avoid being stereotyped, what would you answer?

Tips: Try to answer and give information about you that encourage the other person to share their personal interests .

So here what works for me:

What Do You Do? I love living abroad, meet people from different backgrounds, explore new food, discover natural wonders, learning new stuff like languages. How about you ? What do you love to do when you are not at work?

Where Do You Come From? I am not sure if where I am from defines me anymore as I spent most of my adult life living abroad, I get inspired by my French mom for cooking dishes with a Provencal flavor like “ratatouille” but would die for having authentic “zaru soba”. I really like cosmopolitan urban style of living like I had in New York, or Tokyo and now in Moscow. How about you? What are your favorite places for vacation?

If you are like most people,  you probably have fears and anxiety to engage a conversation with people you don’t know, so:

How do you feel when you get those questions ?

In addition if you are an expat “trailing” spouse like me and freshly arrived in a  city or country you may be even more uncomfortable to answer as nobody is really interested by what you are really doing : unpacking cartons, helping children adjust to their new school or being lost in translation at the supermarket. On top, you might experience the emotional struggles of the “culture Shock”.

What are your typical answers ?

What are the most embarrassing questions you ever got at a networking event ?

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2 thoughts on “Conversation Killers : What Do You Do ? Where Do You Come From ?

  1. Judy November 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm Reply

    I never actually attended a business networking event while living overseas, but I did notice that whenever I met new people with my spouse, I was never asked ‘what do you do’ and this applied equally to men and women. The assumption was that because I was a woman with a working spouse, I didn’t work (even when I did). There are some dreadful stereotypes for accompanying partners in the expat world.

  2. Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach November 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm Reply

    Agree Judy, we have to work hard to avoid getting labels and being an ex-pat certainly makes things more complicated. I realized that the day I had my son at school, I became Nicolas’ mom and no more Anne.

    Things are changing though, I see more men following their expat wives even in a country like Russia. Those poor guys here are not accepted in the overwhelming number of expat women’s support groups. Wondering if they sign Junior’s dad when they get invited at a birthday party ?

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