General Etiquette > Life...in general

Is "tell me about yourself" a "conversational kiss of death"?

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Stricken_Halo:
I was curious about a remark in this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/2014/04/21/550ccd7e-b8ff-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html
She was unhappy because her blind date said, "Tell me about yourself" instead of asking specific questions. She thought the former was a "conversational kiss of death." I was curious about whether others have found this to be so, or whether this is a specific case of someone looking for an excuse to dislike someone she didn't find attractive.

I'm placing this here instead of the dating forums because it's an issue that applies to many situations besides dating.

ClaireC79:
I don't like it and never know how to answer it so it would kill a conversation with me to be honest

perpetua:
I hate this question in any situation, because I never know how to answer it. It's just too broad. What are they looking for? Information about what you do for a living? Your personality quirks? Your values? Whether you're a hard worker who enjoys scuba diving? Whether you're married/divorced/single? Where you're from? What? What do you want from me? I just flounder, so yes, it would kill a conversation. If you want to know things about me, ask specific questions, otherwise you'll just get me frantically flapping about with not a clue about what you actually want to know.

ETA: In fact, I'll usually answer it with some variation on "well, what do you want to know?", to which the answer is inevitably "Anything!". Well, what chance does *that* give me?!

cicero:
I hate that question because, as PPs noted, it's too broad. What do you want to know? where am i supposed to start from? birth? divorce? career? I'm not surprised that the person in the article is a journalist (which he mentioned a number of times) - that is more of a "interview" question and less of a "let's go to know each other personally" question.

It would have been better to be more specific - Where did you grow up? what college did you go to? where have you traveled to? you lived in X? have you visited nearby Y [city/national park/museum]?

marcel:
The problem with sentences like "tell me about yourself" is that it is being used when you do not have any conversation going. I think it is not so much that the sentence is a conversation killer, as that it is an indication that the conversation is already dead. In a normal conversation, especially on a first date, you are telling about yourself, if you need to be prompted to do so, there is something wrong.

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