For many of us, meeting new people, whether socially or professionally, can be awkward. And so many times we gravitate, especially in professional settings, to the dreaded “What do you do?” first question. While it’s easy and safe and gives us some insight as to the type of person we have just met, it’s boring and predictable. And let’s face it, none of us wants to be boring or predictable.
Research shows that people prefer and tend to seek out relationships with those that we have multiple things in common with. This is called multiplex ties, where we prefer to have relationships with people with an overlap of roles from different social contexts.
Think about your “friends” at work. Those colleagues that you have shared habits and interests with outside of work are relationships you would generally nurture even after one of you leaves your job. So, while it might be tempting to ask someone you just met what they do for a living, start by asking them “where are you from” or “what was the best thing you did to survive 2020.” This way you have the opportunity to build deeper connections.