3 reasons why telling people “What” you are is boring

– And why nobody cares about your job

I frequently meet individuals who mould their sense of self around their occupation, their job. Fine, but is that how you see yourself?

Following on from our look at “Why” you are, I’m going to take a dive into “What” you are, and why it must not define you. Get this right and you’ll connect with people on a deeper level. Your life and the lives of your clients will undergo a transformative change.

1. Don’t define yourself by a job title

Go to any conference or networking event, and the first question you’re asked is likely to be, “What do you do?”

I’m assuming you won’t reply, “I’m a Guardian reader, or Science fiction devotee? (The last one will be ok if you’re at a Marvel or Star Trek convention).

If you’re making a difference and I trust you are, why not share it. I know someone who, in response to that question, replied, “I help people recovering from addictions to stay healthy”. They could have said, I work as a Psychologist. Interesting perhaps, but not as memorable.

You see, people want to know what difference you make. They really are not interested in generalised job titles.

2. Become an active Listener

Active listening is another superpower that will level up your emotional intimacy game. When the person you’re with speaks, listen intently – with your heart and your ears. No interrupting or waiting for your turn to speak. Being present in the moment matters.

Guess what, people love talking about themselves. Ask them about their reason for being at the meeting, and they will eagerly open up about themselves. Go a step further and ask them who they’d like to meet and help them.

3. This one might feel scary. Define yourself by “How” you got to be making the difference you are making.

Risk being vulnerable. When questioned about your choice to work with vulnerable teenagers or people in recovery, you can explain that it’s because someone once aided you, if that’s the case.

Why is this so difficult for so many of us? Because we fear being judged, seen to be vulnerable. It’s possible that people will reject us.

Forty-odd years ago, I was that person working with survivors of substance misuse. And yes, surprise, surprise, I received help when I needed it.

So, there you have it. Instead of worrying about others’ opinions, focus on being interested in others and you’ll have a greater impact. Forget “what”, share “how”and “why”. You’ll make a difference.

ShelleyBridgman