Episode 70: How to Answer “So What Do You Do?” Question

Pottery Shopping in Queenstown

Welcome back to Episode #70 of The Daily Interaction podcast where the topic today is inspired by my most favorite aunt from Iran on one her visits to the US – listen to the show for the full story where we explore the sometimes-dreaded question: “So What Do You Do?”.

How do you answer the question when people ask you what you do? Do you say you “are” something or you “do” something? And do you go with the standard responses closest to your profession, or get creative and answer in a unique way that sticks out?

And how do you feel about the question and the way you reply? Your work is your imprint on society and your mark on future generations, and the question “What do you do” has become a standard part of conversation, precisely because work is so central to our lives.

This “work” can be anything from being a doctor or a soldier in training to a stay-at-home mom raising two kids. It is what you do. It is your mark and your imprint. But still, most of us struggle so much with answering the question.

At the very least, I know that I have on a million occasions, and as you will hear in the podcast, so has my most beloved Aunt on one of her visits from Iran to our home in the US. Now hop over to the podcast and take a listen.

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Show Notes for Answering the Question: “So What Do You Do?”:

1. The story of my aunt and how frustrated she was at the American parties with the same question everyone asked her, which was, “So what do you do?”

2. The way I have answered the question “So what do you do?” over the years especially after the transition from corporate to self-employment.

3. The key difference in the response between “I do such-n-such” versus “I am such-n-such”.

4. The way association with known professions may put you in a box and how to get creative with your responses.

5. The enthusiasm and the confidence in how you answer it will set the impression in the other person’s mind.

6. What to never ever do when you answer the question. Don’t commit this cardinal sin.

7. What if people really don’t care about what you do but still ask the question? And how to distinguish between you and others.

8. How to suss out people’s real motivation for asking and how to leverage that.

Thank you so much for listening to The Daily Interaction Podcast, and for being here as a reader and a listener. Don’t forget to grab your 21 Step Confidence Building series below before you leave and come back to visit again! Check out:

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Comment please: How do you answer the question, “So what do you do?”

  • http://shadowfoot.com Brian (Shadowfoot)

    I enjoyed this podcast. I answer the question with “I make people’s jobs easier”. It’s hard to explain what a business analyst does, or what a product manager looking after B2B and B2C websites for people involved in real estate does.

    With “I make people’s jobs easier” I quickly get a point of difference from soneone who gives their job title. It helps prevent me being pigeon-holed based on someone’s prior experience. It also encourages a conversation if someone is genuinely interested.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Brian, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts … I love that line – it’s just enough to raise curiosity and have them poke you for more …. And it’s so much more powerful to say what you “do” than what your title is…. can’t agree more. THANK YOU for being a listener!