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  • Fe Robinson

What do you want to know about other people?

I had an interesting conversation recently, reflecting on the tendency people have to ask others ‘what do you do?’ in early conversations with them. This question often gets answered by identifying a job role, defining people by the work they do. Judgements then often follow about the status of the role given, assessing a person’s place in the hierarchy of likely salary or of social status. It’s as if one can judge someone’s value in the world by what they receive in return for their working time.

The further distant my memories of corporate life become, the more curious I find this approach. When I meet new clients, it often takes a long time before we might talk about their work. I find myself far more interested in how they are, how they want to be, social infrastructure they are an integral part of, and their engagement with the things that lead to a good, well-lived life.

As human beings, I sense it is important for us to be interested in those things that enable us to be well, to be happy, to be peaceful, and to contribute to that state for those around us. Community used to be the norm, now it perhaps feels like a luxury, and yet it is essential to our well-being.

Perhaps a better question on meeting people might be ‘How do you contribute?’ How is it that they make the world a better place? Who’s lives do they enhance and uplift? What difference do they make? Work can be a key part of this, and so can many other aspects of life. Ultimately, every act or omission leaves behind our trace, our life’s work is the culmination of each decision we make about how we want to interact in the world.

So ask yourself, if you look through the lens of what you offer the world, what do you do?


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