What do you do for a living? What advice would you give to someone who is going to do that work? What is your greatest satisfaction in your work? What is your greatest challenge in it, and how do you respond when you are living at your best? What qualities are needed to do it well? What are the five main things people need to know who do that work? If you are retired, the question may change: what did you do? Or what are you mainly doing now?
I just love getting to know people. And these are some of the questions that I use in what I call vocational interviews. I have begun to find these interviews tremendously beneficial in getting to know others. A vocational counselor reminded me that some people hate their work. A high school guidance counselor told me that he likes to ask about the student’s dream job. It is good to remember that there may be reasons to vary the questions.
Sometimes I have arranged with people to set aside an hour, taking turns, letting the other person ask questions for thirty minutes, and then asking my own questions of the other for thirty minutes. Two or three of the vocational interview questions are plenty in order to lead the conversation into fascinating realms.
Can I learning to love someone, to support them in some way in their life struggles, without understanding them at some depth? I believe that learning to love someone involves understanding their motivation. That is especially important if I am to love someone whose behavior causes feelings of irritation in me. What are they defending in their behavior? Against what threats? Some people are happy to answer direct questions about their motivation; some are not. Some people feel uncomfortable about personal questions. The vocational interview is one way to avoid such embarrassment.
Of course, it usually takes some socializing first, some relaxed building up to that level of resonance where the vocational interview or other significant discovery can begin. With some people, the only access to deeper conversation is through the chance opportunities that arise in simpler daily socializing or practical conversation when a little humor can release a greater openness.
People spend a lot of time working. To learn what their lives are like at work is to find out about a large portion of their waking hours. They acquire skills. They endure difficulties that may be oppressive. What a priceless opportunity it is to become, to some degree, through conversation, a sympathetic colleague!
Each person becomes interesting as we get to know them and as we mobilize our faith in the fact that they are created by God and have within them the presence of the glorious spirit of God. Sometimes we immediately sense their spiritual fragrance; at other times we need to mobilize our faith to break through the layers of stuff—including our own layers of stuff—to discover the divinely created, infinitely loved, spiritually indwelt, evolutionary, free-will, son or daughter of God who is before us.
In today’s society, social time pressures and personal immaturity conspire to make interactions superficial. Much of the time, social media serve to reinforce relationships that stay on the surface. Whether we express indignation or affection, we rarely understand well the persons with whom we interact.
A film titled “What Women Want” was based on the premise that the leading character, could, for a time, read the minds of the women he saw. There was a certain amount of sexploitation in the film, but the drama of the film reached its height when the telepathic man learned of a woman’s intended suicide and put forth heroic effort to reach her in time to save her. After seeing that film, I found myself in the grocery store, not mindlessly walking the aisles for the things I wanted to buy, but alive with the awareness that each person around me had an inner life, that each one was mindlessly or mindfully thinking about something. It was thrilling to have a heightened sense of the presence in others of that inner life.
How little we know of one another! And what a treasure to get to know another brother or sister!
Where can we find people with the time for deeper relating? How can we arrange such time with persons we would like to know better? Who has answers to share about some of the questions in the vocational interview? Who is waiting to be asked?
When we get to know others better, they may want to ask questions of us. Do we not all crave to know and be known more deeply?
Happy getting to know!
Photo credit: By Amstefan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49276613