It’s a question asked by every parent, friend and acquaintance: “How’s work?”
Most of us have a stock answer we go to. But few of us have ever put much thought into the importance in the way we answer the seemingly innocent question. Let’s look at a few different scenarios.
IF YOU SAY WORK IS BAD: This is likely the answer most people are looking for. People like to commiserate and ‘bond’ by trash-talking low pay, a boring routine, and made-for-reality TV co-workers.
IF YOU SAY WORK IS GOOD: They won’t believe you. They’ll try to steer you towards negative territory to see if you’re human. Stay strong.
IF YOU ARE VAGUE ABOUT WORK: Short answers make it appear as if you are hiding a larger issue – or are a boring conversationalist. This leaves too much to the questioners’ imagination, allowing them to come to their own (inaccurate) conclusions about your job.
IF YOU OFFER WORK DETAILS: Many people ask questions without any interest in the answers. But it’s worth trying to fill in the blanks the first few times a person asks the question. If they have follow-up questions, explore the topic a little deeper.
Personally, I like when people answer in a positive fashion (they actually like what they do – or are at least able to highlight the positive attributes) and offer details along the way.
Telling people that you like work, without being a full-on liar, has several important benefits.
1) It is a less common answer, therefore, making your response more memorable.
2) Hiring agents and folks who might recommend you for a position, want to bring on positive people (or be associated with them) – potentially unlocking the door to future opportunities.
It might not be fair, but in my world, I divide everyone into two camps: WORK HATERS and WORK LOVERS. I recognize there is a huge in between, but sorting through all that gray is a time-consuming proposition. There’s no guesswork involved in figuring out the larger camp.
How many people do you know who generally like what they do and maintain a positive attitude when discussing work?
Let’s salute these people and strive to become one of them. And remember: I will put you into the WORK HATE or the WORK LOVE category. Which would you prefer to be in?