Are you interested in what you do at work?
If so, are you able to tell someone else about why you are?
These questions came up in connection with a course I was teaching last week, where we’d come to a section on meetings. Not just group meetings and how to make yourself heard, but meeting someone for the first time, for instance at a work-related conference.
I’d talked about how it was important to practice giving your ‘opening speech’, as it were, to someone you’d met during a long break intended for mingling.
Then gave some pointers about getting started and what to include in this speech.
Which, of course, shouldn’t be a speech at all. As someone pointed out, it should sound natural and not robotic.
Of course, I replied.
But if you don’t practice it beforehand, how will you know what to say and what to leave out?
With all this in mind, my ‘students’ started speaking to one another, each taking a turn in describing first their company and then their own job.
When walking around and listening to them practice, I noticed how often people just used their job title to talk about what they did at work. As if that explained everything.
So at the next opportunity, I asked them to repeat this exercise yet add more detail – what were their actual tasks?
Again, they started in. I noticed this time that while many managed to do a fair job of giving more detail about an average day at work, there was still something missing.
The something was that most showed so little enthusiasm for and interest in what they did for roughly 37.5 hours a week.
Where did this lack come from? Was it a fear of seeming to brag that held them back?
But if you can’t express an interest in what you do, why should anyone else be interested in what you do?
Or doesn’t that matter? (I’d say it does.)
When arriving back at the front of the classroom after my walkabout and eavesdropping session, I thought maybe the fault lay in my initial question. I shouldn’t have asked them to just describe their work, but rather answer the questions: what do you do, and why do you find it interesting?
Because that’s what we really want to know, isn’t it?
Because if you can’t answer either one or both of them, should you really be in that job?
If you were asked these two questions, would you be able to answer them?