We’ve probably all been asked this at some point in our lives and… can we just agree that it’s an awful question?
Interviews, teamwork situations, first week of uni icebreakers, name any slightly awkward or nerve-wrecking situation and this question will probably have made its dreaded entrance at some point. The goal of the question is clearly to find out more about the person you’re asking it, but, let’s face it, it’s hardly effective.
What do we really find out about a person when they describe themselves as ‘adventurous, fun-loving, vivacious’? Surely they must have a good reason for picking these words, but we don’t know what those are. They might think they’re adventurous because they go rock-climbing now and then; you may think it means they’ve climbed the Mont Blanc twenty times – clearly, you’re not on the same page… and you still don’t know anything about them.
And then there’s the whole thing of actually answering this question, which is, without a doubt, bloody difficult. The question in itself seems to indicate that these three words should in some way be positive, but thinking positive thoughts about ourselves, and, even worse, voicing these (the horror!), is something many of us find hard to do – or is that really just me?
Moreover, does anyone actually think of themselves in black and white terms like the ones above? What do we define ourselves by? What makes us see ourselves the way that we do?
When thinking about this question I realised that I define myself by the things I love and enjoy. When asking myself, ‘who am I?’ I just kept thinking of all the films I like, my obsession with birds and cake and Victorian things and Scotland and witches and Fleetwood Mac (there is a theme in there somewhere).
Those are the things I’m passionate about, the things I can talk for hours about, the ones that occupy my mind. Those are the things that I want others to know about me. Those are the things I gladly share. And there’s so much more to learn about me from those facts alone than any three words ever could.
So let’s change the question and swap it for a much more friendly ‘Tell me about your favourite things’. Because that’s what really gets people to open up, to relate and to connect.
So please, I’m dying to know.