What Do You Do…? When? How to set yourself apart and shine.

Since the age of 15, I have always worked. These were various jobs at places like a Pizza Parlor, Fabric Store, the USAF, Hospitals, Title & Escrow, and ultimately for myself as a Speaker and Trainer.  Not too long ago, I was sitting with a group of ladies who have never worked (outside their home). By that, I mean they have never worked for a business or had an employer. It is a common practice of mine to ask someone, “What do you do?” I had a funny experience when a few of these ladies answered my question with a question: When I asked, “What do you do?” a few of the women said, “When?” You see, between 10:00 a.m. and Noon, some of the ladies played Tennis. Then they had lunch between noon and 2:00 p.m. and a hair appointment at 4p.m. I immediately realized that the reference points in our conversation were going to be quite different.

I had the occasion to have lunch with these ladies another time and they asked me, “To which Country Club do you belong?” When I told them that I didn’t happen to belong to a club they inquired, “Well, where do you eat lunch?” They were thoroughly confused when I shared with them how I frequently eat lunch on the seat of my car while driving from one client to another. If I’m lucky, I may eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the kitchen counter… It’s all perspective. Keep it real and see where you shine.

This kind of experience got me thinking about how we define ourselves. When someone asks us what we do for a living and we simply give them our job title, we pigeonhole their opinions of us. When we say, “I’m a….. Realtor; Secretary, Nurse, Lawyer, House Painter….…xyz” they can only use their past experience with someone of this title to “assume” they know what we do. Instead of telling people “what” I do, I try something different. I start out by telling them “how” I do what I do instead of “what” I am. This allows me to create a conversation that is interesting. This technique also allows me to set myself apart from any preconceptions. I don’t want their last experience with someone with my same job title to determine their understanding of me.

For example: If you sell Real Estate, instead of saying, “I’m a Realtor,” try saying, “You know how families want a home that fits their personal and financial needs? Well, I help them with that…I’m a Realtor with XYZ.”

A House Painter: “You know how people need to be confident that the largest investment they have ever made is protected from the elements for years to come? Well, I make certain they are assured that their investment is secured and sealed from the wind, sun and other environmental conditions…..I’m a house painter with xyz company”

A Receptionist: “Have you ever walked into a company and felt that no one really cares who you are or why you’re there to see them? Well, I work for xyz company and I make certain that everyone feels comfortable and confident that their needs are going to be heard…. I’m a Receptionist.”

Set yourself apart and shine. Look at your actions on a deeper level and take pride in “how you do what you do.”