I've found a couple things that help me address this issue:
1) I try to focus a lot of my professional development (books I read, training, etc.) on things that also apply to my personal life: skills like communication, listening, leadership, time management, etc.
2) I work in a job that is aligned with who I want to be as a person. So, when someone asks "what do you do," I can answer, "I'm a technology guy who works with urban young adults to provide them with opportunities for career success." I think that says a lot about who I am, not just about what I do.
--Max Tue Nov 1 13:17:24 2005
Interesting sidebar Beau.
A couple random points...
It's telling that you (and people in general) use "what do you do" in place of "what's your job?". Sometimes when meeting a stranger I try "what do you do, for fun or profit?" and let them pick either their job or their hobby, whatever they find more interesting to talk about. But the question is so oddball that it doesn't work so smoothly and needs further explanation.
I think I've heard that the interest in a person's occupation is kind of an "American" thing. I have less experience with what small talk looks like in other countries.
The whole "wanting to know who people are, rather than what they do?" is a little bit...I dunno, optimistic. For one thing, it's just damn TOUGH to know "who someone is", per se...maybe impossible, but definately beyond the scope of smalltalk. And in one sense, read purely literally (as opposed to the occupation meaning), what someone does is how they interact with the outside world, and that's "interesting". Someone could theoretically have a rich and deep innerlife, but if it's entirely inside them, it's not going to be of much interest to any outsider.
What do you mean, "time out for people"? You mean shmoozing and making smalltalk? I think a good work or even home situation can strike a balance. Or, alternate between extremes: when the workload is lighter, more shmoozing, but able to cut out the shmoozing and focus when there's more stuff on people's plates.
--Kirk Tue Nov 1 13:22:36 2005
I have a heavy project load constantly. I slack off majorly at work, but I still need to spend the majority of my life there and commute another bunch of my life away. Someday I hope to change my home projects to employment, so I don't have to slack off at work and then can socialize in the evenings because my evenings really have no order. Just read my blog at http://thelex-topia.blogspot.com to get an idea about that one.
I don't like to think of people existing as states of being, but rather as people that act. Even our feelings, thoughts and so on and so forth are acts. . .even if they're repeated acts. Existing as a state of being is simply just an evaluation of how current surroundings, past actions, current pattern of actions and possible actions in the future.
I once read somewhere that thinking of things in terms of state of being (even thinking about things using the words 'is,' 'were,' 'am,' etc. etc.) kind of takes power away from the individual and makes them think that they are what they're doing and they can't change what they're doing because that's who they are. So. . .in my concept of things, think as doers not as state of beings or even as some kind of static being empowers me and other people.
So, honestly, I would rather someone ask me what I'm doing rather than try to pin me down to what I am.
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 1 15:25:24 2005