What do you do?

Try this as an icebreaker at your next meeting…Ask everyone to think for just a minute of something that fits this description:What is one activity you love doing, you are relatively good at doing, and you want to get better by doing it more? Now turn this activity into a proper noun and have everyone introduce themselves with this as their occupation.For example, “Hi, I’m a woodcarver.” (This is even more fun to try with a straight face at parties with people you don’t know!I’ve been a writer, a musician, a researcher, a canoeist…all true.)

Our minds are bound to preconceptions connected to our language.We hear someone’s occupation and we subconsciously assume education levels, financial status, or political orientation.It’s not a lie to say I’m a woodcarver when someone asks what I do.That is an occupation I identify with, though completely separate from my formal education, paycheck or social views.However, when I buck the convention of playing my paycheck occupation as my first card, the conversation becomes much richer and more focused on things personal to me.The relationships I’m able to forge with others become that much more authentic.Anyone can be a lawyer, a teacher, or an accountant, but it is truly the lucky who get to chat with a knitter, a runner, or a photographer, to make connections and learn about them.It also pushes your own self-reflection about who you are and what is important to you, and if done honestly and genuinely, allows you to grow as an individual.

Speaking of honesty, when you finally get around to sharing your “professional” occupation, people will realize there is more to you, to every person, than small talk.

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3 Responses to What do you do?

  1. CSte says:

    This is GREAT! I LOVE this one!!! I am going to use it a lot in small groups!!!

  2. Lyn Sutterlin says:

    This IS a great one, for it reminds us of how complex our identities are, EVEN to ourselves! I use the noun “Stripper” in such an exercise, but have lately been advised that at my age, I should say “Refinisher…” (I honestly DO love to strip and to refinish furniture–just finished an Antique Mirror Frame last week, and I am SO proud of the effort!)

  3. Joe says:

    I agree with CSte ! What a great icebreaker! What a way to start a small group. I’ve abeen working with a group of five and even though we’ve been together for over a year, I’m going to try this at our next meeting. When a new small group I am joining at church first meets, I’m going to ask permission to use this at our first meeting.
    Thanks for a great idea!

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