Author Topic: Rude to ask strangers?  (Read 3788 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Thipu1

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6747
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2013, 05:43:21 PM »
'What do you do?' isn't a rude question.  Even if the man is between jobs he can still respond in a polite way. 


oceanus

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 693
  • pronounced o-see-ANN-us
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2013, 06:05:46 PM »
OP, I don’t think your question was rude at all.  You were just making conversation. 

While I understand someone who has been (involuntarily) unemployed for awhile might feel uncomfortable, s/he could just say “I’m in sales, I do accounting” or something like that.

OTOH, there might be reasons a person doesn’t want to reveal their profession.   For example, I know someone who has a sister who works for the Pentagon and isn’t allowed to ever reveal to any outsider what she does.  Some people in law enforcement don’t like to reveal exactly what they do.  People who are assistants to well-known politicians or celebrities aren’t usually allowed to reveal this to strangers. If someone says s/he is a private detective or psychiatrist, that usually results in more questions.

Also, I know of a situation where a woman felt a man was a bit too interested in her, he asked “where do you work?”, and she just said “downtown” and walked away.  She didn’t want him calling her or stopping in.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 06:12:04 PM by oceanus »

DottyG

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18204
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2013, 06:45:48 PM »
Oceanus, I can see how there could be professions where discretion is needed. I'm not disagreeing with you when I say the below; I agree with your post completely. I'm just saying what you did in my words.

When there is such a job, there are polite ways of expressing it (like what you've said) - not like what the man in the OP said.


oceanus

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 693
  • pronounced o-see-ANN-us
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2013, 07:03:01 PM »
DottyG, I agree that there are polite ways to deflect the question.  The man's remark was uncalled for and (as I said) rude.

Iris

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3867
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2013, 07:09:46 PM »
I tend to ask "What do you do in life?" instead of "what do you do for a living?".

That way, people who would rather not talk about their job, or who are unemployed and don't want to say that, have an "out" to defer to their hobbies, interests, families, etc instead of directly needing to tell me: "my job situation is not something I discuss."

But I don't think it's /rude/ to ask it the way you did. And I agree with Dotty that, networking-wise, it was not too smart of him to respond to you in a snarky way.

This. I tend to ask "What do you do with yourself?" or "What do you do to keep yourself occupied?" or something along those lines, to avoid classifying someone just by their 'job'. However, that's a personal preference and not at all because it is rude to ask what someone does for a job.

OTOH, he was rude, unless he said it with a laugh as a way to deflect you. Even if he was trying to it doesn't sound like he carried it off.
"Can't do anything with children, can you?" the woman said.

Poirot thought you could, but forebore to say so.

DottyG

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18204
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2013, 07:51:03 PM »
Iris, I'm not saying that your question is wrong or rude. But if someone asked me that, I think I'd be confused! I think I'd kinda be saying something like, "Ummmm...I work....I read.....ummmmm....wait, what did you want to know again? I'm not sure what you're asking me!"

I think asking what someone does for a living is so common a question that your paraphrasing would throw me for a loop and have me looking quite the idiot as I stammered a reply!


Iris

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3867
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2013, 08:19:54 PM »
Iris, I'm not saying that your question is wrong or rude. But if someone asked me that, I think I'd be confused! I think I'd kinda be saying something like, "Ummmm...I work....I read.....ummmmm....wait, what did you want to know again? I'm not sure what you're asking me!"

I think asking what someone does for a living is so common a question that your paraphrasing would throw me for a loop and have me looking quite the idiot as I stammered a reply!

Really? Wow. I've never had that happen. Most people either just tell me what they do for a living or are *delighted* that they get the chance to wax lyrical about their earwax collection.  :) Personally I *hate* being asked what I do for a living at a party so I would never do it to someone else. As I said, I don't think it's rude, but I don't like it myself.
"Can't do anything with children, can you?" the woman said.

Poirot thought you could, but forebore to say so.

siamesecat2965

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8671
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2013, 10:48:08 PM »
I vote for him being rude. Many moons ago, my mom's bf tried to set me up with someone she knew. I wasn't all that interested, but I agreed. I went to some function they were at, and he was too. We chit chatted a bit, it was awkward, but then, having exhausted all other topics of conversation, I asked him what he did, and he then repeated back to me, in this incredulous tone of voice "what do I do?" Like I just just asked him some really deep, personal, question.  I took my leave shortly after that as I didn't get why he had such issues with my asking him.

DottyG

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18204
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2013, 10:58:24 PM »
But Siamese, he answered you. What does he do? He makes other people uncomfortable enough that they want to get away from him! ;)


Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5174
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2013, 10:59:47 PM »
I don't think it was a rude question, either. It's interesting to think of the situations that might have made it awkward for him to answer, but ultimately his choice of an answer was rude.

Slightly off-topic, but it's interesting what different cultures and groups consider a rude "small talk" question. My friend from South Korea always wants to ask people (like, adults) how old they are, because in South Korea a lot of behaviors and forms of address change depending on whether someone is older or younger than you. Whereas in the US, I think asking a near-stranger's age is considered a bit rude or at least unnecessary.

Also, my friend from Venezuela told me that there, it was considered rude to ask about one's profession. I'm sorry to say I can't remember what the reasoning was. Of course, both of these things are just opinions of one person each, and not necessarily representative of the entire country mentioned... :)
~Lynn2000

Auntie Mame

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1500
  • Live! Live! LIVE!
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2013, 02:18:19 PM »
Though it's technically not a rude question, and you were in no way rude to ask it.  It can be a touchy subject these days.  It took me forever to find permanent work and that question made me embarrassed when I was unemployed.

That said, I would never react the way that man did, his reaction was flat out rude.

I do tend to shy away from that question these days because I know how sensitive it can be. 
Auntie needs fuel, black coffee and a side car.

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21417
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #26 on: January 06, 2013, 03:23:39 PM »
I actuallt knew somebody who worked for the DEA and coyld not widely disclose the fact. I am not sure that air marshalls can either. I don't know what they tell people they ha e just met who ask this, I assume they don't just get surly.

DottyG

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18204
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2013, 03:32:56 PM »
It would seem to me that getting surly or rude to the question draws more attention than having a vague answer that doesn't actually disclose any kind of secretive job. It's not like it's an unusual question; people in fields that can't disclose it probably have a stock response they can give. And, if not, they can check with their coworkers to see what the standard answer is for them.

And, like I said earlier, being out of work isn't fun. Trust me, I know. But the last thing you want to do in that time is burn any bridges on changing that status. When you're looking for work, you lean to view every interaction with others as potential networking. In a way, looking for a job is a job in itself. Don't shoot yourself in the foot. A simple, "well, I'm trained as an underwater basketweaver, but I'm currently in-between jobs. Do you know of anything, by any chance?" just might lead you to something wonderful that you hadn't expected.


Tea Drinker

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1355
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2013, 05:09:31 PM »
At the moment, my answer to "What do you do?" would be some variant on "I'm an editor," and I might or might not mention that I am looking for employment (either another full-time in-house job or more freelance work). There have also been times I've answered "where do you work?" with "I'm freelancing these days" because I didn't feel like talking about the frustrations of job-hunting (and it does leave the opening for someone to ask if I want to work on whatever project).
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

DottyG

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18204
Re: Rude to ask strangers?
« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2013, 06:49:20 PM »
Tea Drinker, that's a clever answer! I like it.