Why it’s not okay to ask someone about their occupation in a social setting

Why it’s not okay to ask someone about their Occupation in a Social Setting

How do you open up a conversation when meeting someone for the first time? Do you find it easy or do you struggle with what to say?

Do you ever find yourself clamming up, or perhaps you operate on the other end of the spectrum, with endless waffling and not quite knowing where you are going with the chitchat?

The subject of small talk can trigger many different feelings, for some it is a natural process and for others they feel it is a waste of time and that it is ‘superficial’.

What some people don’t understand is that in order to get on to the ‘big’ talk (the interesting subjects) you need to start with the ‘small’ talk. How else will you know what is of interest to the other person? It is, if you like, the essential foreplay of getting things going in the conversation arena.

So, on to the subject of what to say. One of the default questions that is being asked is ‘what do you do?’

Emma Dupont | The Emma Dupont School of Etiquette | London

You know what’s coming…you shouldn’t be asking this in a social situation! So, why not?

  • Being defined. Nobody should be defined by their occupation. It should be just one part of our lives, not our total definition or purpose in life.
  • Preconceived ideas. Many of us have pre-conceived ideas about many occupations. Etiquette Coach? Goodness, I really don’t want strangers to know that in the first 30 seconds of meeting me!
  • Free Advice. Have you ever had someone ask you for free advice once they know what you ‘do’?
  • Money. By asking someone about their job, you are indirectly asking them what they earn. 

Occupation is not alone; there are many other questions that are being asked that shouldn’t be, such as:

  • Where are you from?
  • Where do you live?
  • Do you have children?

Interestingly, the list of questions that you shouldn’t ask is far, far greater than the ones you should.

During my One-Day Confident Conversation Course I cover the subject of small talk in great depth, from those all-important initial questions, to deepening our conversations skills.

And, best of all? You will obtain much of the information to these taboo subjects just be asking the RIGHT questions, in a natural and unobtrusive way.