I beg your pardon. I do not agree with this assessment for all people who ask, “What do you do? Are you friends with X? Where do you live?” I do agree I have poor communication skills when it comes to meeting new people, and I’ve clicked on your post in order to gain new information, but I am not “masking a self-serving exploration of” anyone’s value. Even if someone shows up in their work pants full of mud and mess, I’m interested in what they do because they clearly have a skill I don’t possess. I’m not good with my hands (other than typing), and I admire people who are good at their occupations no matter what that occupation is.
I am all too familiar with people who do certain types of work because it affords a paycheck and/or benefits, and may not be their dream job. I worked as an administrative assistant while I went to college at night because that was the only way I could afford an education. After I got married, I worked in real estate to pay off insane credit card bills because my husband only gave me an allowance that didn’t cover the basic needs of the household. I needed a way to pay high bills that afforded flexible hours because I had three young children. I’m all too familiar that a person’s job may not mean anything — it may simply be a way to put food on the table. I am the last person to judge another’s career choice.
As a natural networker, I also may want to know what they do in order to send them potential work — whether it’s a side hustle job or whatever. Perhaps that is self-serving since it makes me feel good to help people. People ask me all the time if I know someone who’s an electrician, who’s a plumber, a babysitter, a housekeeper, or a gardener. I love to help people get jobs and I love to connect employers to good people.
The ice breaker questions, as I like to call them, give a socially anxious, introverted person like me, tools to communicate when I don’t know someone. If I’m doing it wrong, it’s okay to let me know that but don’t classify all people as being self-serving — not all of us were born with exceptional communication skills. Awkward and cringe-worthy? Yes! But not someone who is looking to explore another’s value.