Social conversations with someone unemployed

People talking sociallyHere’s how to avoid an awkward question with someone who’s been unemployed for awhile and may be still be struggling to find work.  I read a good article in the Wall Street Journal and wanted to share its message with you all. This may come in handy especially over the holiday season.

As you connect with someone in this situation, it’s best not to ask “How’s the job search going?”.  We all know this can be a tough time for someone seeking a job, and it’s likely they may dread being asked that question.

Instead, how about asking “So what’s keeping you busy these days?” “How are you doing?” or something open-ended to that effect.  This way, the other person can decide what they want to talk about. If they have already landed a job, they will likely tell you about it.

Perhaps you are the person who is currently seeking employment. You know how emotionally draining this can be.  It’s fine to ask if someone may have a lead or idea for you, but you don’t want to alienate people by digging too deep for favors. If someone is kind enough to take any kind of action for you, like checking on job openings in their company, always show your appreciation even if the lead doesn’t pan out.

I have always believed that someone’s worth is not about what job they may do. I believe someone’s worth comes from how they impact other people’s lives.  If you are having trouble finding employment, just realize it’s about timing and luck, so do things that make you feel good about yourself.  It’s not a reflection of your self-worth.

If you can help open a door for someone, please do. One day you could probably use the favor too. Let’s all help each other out.


9 thoughts on “Social conversations with someone unemployed

  1. The notion that we need to be coached towards relating to people in some other way beyond our jobs makes me feel melancholy. But it’s true. We’re completely conditioned to relate to each other in this way because that’s almost the only thing our culture values. How sad. A favorite question of mine, that comes from nonviolent communication, is “what’s alive for you right now?” It moves us into the present moment and into feeling and sensation. Another one I love is “how is your heart?” I smile when I imagine what our society would be like if these questions were in the mainstream. Maybe some day. For now, I feel grateful that I have at least a few people in my life that don’t think I’m nutty when I ask those questions…

    • I can relate :o)

      Most people would back off quite quickly if you asked those questions :o) but I know some people who would love to get asked such questions.

      I like the ‘what’s alive for you right now?’ for the reason you mentioned, and it really hits the point of what is meaningful for that person. But only some people speak that ‘language’.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! Very much appreciated,

  2. Another great Blog Wendy. I will definitely have my better half read this one. I like the idea of saying ‘ So what fills your Day?’ It is interesting how many people have told me things other than what they do for a living. It is not quite as blunt as What do you for a job or a living?

  3. Excellent, Wendy, as usual. It amazes me that at gatherings (many of them now) the first thing that still pops out of people’s mouths is, “What do you do?” or the like. Next time, I’m going to reply I treat people with kindness, I love humanity, and I have a great amount of compassion for all. Of course, they’ll think I’m referring to some sort of social services career, right? ; )

    • Ah, yes, how interesting. We are conditioned to ask people what they do when we first meet them. I’ve often thought of this myself, but haven’t really come up with a good alternative question. You’ve got me thinking though – perhaps a good opening question might be ‘How do you spend your time?’.

      Thanks for a thought-provoking comment eM,

      • I’ve heard wise little loves say, “What do you want to talk about?” It seems to work for them. I suppose it could work for us too.

      • Hmmm, interesting. I think it could work in some instances.
        I personally like ‘tell me about yourself’ but I don’t use it because it sounds like an interview!

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