Lets (not) talk about work….REALLY???

this is harder than i thought

by Kenneth Justice

~Let’s get something out of the way; I really don’t like talking about work.

Huh? But Kenneth, it seems like all you do is write about experiences you have with clients inside and outside of work

Let me explain, some people really love their job and are gifted with the ability to talk about their job with everyone;

—) they talk about work with relatives

—) they talk about work with friends

—) they talk about work with strangers while standing in line

I’m not one of those people

It’s not that I hate work (although if I had to choose between being at work or being on a beach in the Caribbean……) it’s that I’m not a big fan of talking about job-related issues once the workday is over. By the time I get home each evening and especially on the weekends…the last thing I want to think about is work.

I also believe that most people don’t really care to hear about the ins-and-outs of another person’s career. Unless you are the President of the United States, a Prime Minister, or the head coach of Manchester United…..the average person isn’t too interested in your job.

Sure, our friends and loved ones will patiently inquire about our career…..but for the most part you are talking about co-workers, clients, and issues that are fairly irrelevant to your loved one’s life.

I do enjoy talking about individual experiences. After I’ve had a couple days, few weeks, months, or even years to think about particular instances which occurred at work and I can see a way that the story could be relevant to people outside my vocation; it is then that I try to craft a compelling narrative to tell my friends and family.

Nowhere do I detest talking about work more than after Church on Sunday. If you’ve ever been to a Catholic or Protestant Sunday Mass or Worship Service than I’m sure you know what it looks like for the men who attend; standing together after the service, huddled in groups of 3 and 4 in the sanctuary or narthex there they are talking about their work. Yuck! The conversation is always so dull and uninteresting. Bob talks about being an accountant, Kris talks about his computer design work, David talks about his sales job…..and Kenneth stands off to the side counting the minutes till he can leave and go get a cup of coffee.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend anyone but I really don’t care about the minute details of your job. Perhaps I’m too much of a big-picture kind of person. I enjoy talking about the larger principles related to our lives…..not the little details of your office life and the people you work with that I’ve never met and most likely never will.

Instead of hearing about the Excel Spreadsheet you’ve got to have finished by Tuesday, I’d rather hear about;

—) your long-term goals for life

—) the type of art (movies, music, etc.) that inspires you

—) your thoughts on war and violence

—) how you spend your free time

Am I being overly critical on the issue of work-related conversation?

This past week I read an article by a young man on disability who feels disconnected to the people with whom he attends church; ‘the other men talk about their careers but since I don’t have one there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to connect with them’. I feel really bad for the person in this situation because even though I have a career……I don’t enjoy talking to the men after church about it!

In the film As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson portrays a character whose entire life was focused on his career and when retirement comes…..he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Isn’t this what we see so often throughout Western Society; people focus so much on their career that when they retire they feel lost and as though their life has no meaning?

Statistically, many people post-retirement who do not find a new interest in life end up dying much sooner than if they had just kept working.

However, I am willing to be honest; not everyone enjoys talking about the things that I enjoy. My blog suffers from the confines of my own narrowly defined interests. But that is what makes us human; there is a tremendous amount of diversity among humanity and so we all enjoy talking about different topics.

—) Some people want to read blogs about arts & crafts

—-) Some people want to read blogs with a specific conservative or liberal slant

—-) Some people want to read blogs about a particular era in the lifespan (teenage years, parenting, retirement, etc.)

We are all different…..and that is okay. I don’t want to make it sound like my interests are somehow ‘better’ or ‘greater’ than the person who wants to talk about computer programming and or Vulcan Language skills.

However, if we want to expand the reach of our audience, if we want to connect with more people, and if we want to build more friendships…..we may want to consider what it is that we are talking about and whether or not people are interested in listening.

You may also want to consider drinking another cup of coffee, which reminds me……



Categories: Culture & Society

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15 replies

  1. Best way to describe this; Leave private and work related matters separated. It is just that somehow we and I think most people take work home with them which is sad because they miss out so much that is outside of work. Friends, family, Nature, a free world of wonders to happen.
    And to that may I propose a toast with coffee. To non-work related conversations

  2. There are so many topics I do not enjoy listening to others speak about. Work, dreams they had last night, and other peoples wonderful children, to name but a few. Sometimes I cannot believe why they continue to talk, as my body language and responses should tell them I’m yawning inside.

    • ‘dreams they had last night’

      spot on….years ago I used to have a friend, who each week at coffee had to recount their dreams at great length…..it was a strange experience because this particular friend at times would talk about their dreams for more than an hour as I patiently listened

  3. Kenneth,
    The exception to this complaint might be to consider whether or not the person talking actually likes their work. To listen to someone complain about their work all day would, indeed, be uninteresting to me; but to hear someone talk about their work that they enjoy – now that could be inspiring.

    And as you say, the best reason to talk to others about anything, is if it might be in their interest, too. I don’t mind someone talking about anything – it’s when they won’t stop talking for even a moment – that’s when it’s maddening!

    I will have my tea now, and think about what I am going to do today.


  4. I agree that talking about work can be really boring – it depends on the job but generally speaking… boring. I know I tend to discuss my work but I see my particular job as a career for one and speaking about it from those terms is better than just a “job.” That said – there is a time and place for that type of discussion. Seems to me, when you’re not at work, it’s better to talk about a lot of other things – common interests, the latest movie, what’s going on in your personal life, yadda yadda. I have to admit (now butting in the above conversation) that I have spoken to my friends about some of my dreams on occasion lol, but please note that I don’t go on for long periods of time discussing it. I would say dream talks are weird because it becomes narcissistic (a guess on my part). I discuss them with my friends on occasion because they’re just so weird, they’re entertaining lol and no one’s really complained (if they did I would stop). The celebrity dreams tend to get the most rave reviews LOL. My subconscious is so weird. 🙂

    • I remember reading Jung’s book on dreams which is on of his hallmark books, and a famous early psychology book, and a 1/4 thru the book I said to myself “omg….dude, your taking your dreams wayyyyyy too seriously”. But him and Freud placed a lot of stock in dreams, and while I think there are definitely real life applications to certain dreams, for the most part I believe a lot of it is just random stuff in our heads

    • for me – this is definitely true lol. my dreams are too random and weird to have any real meaning. a few of them perhaps do but mostly nope. 🙂 but that’s why it’s so funny (except the Freddy Krueger ones – I tend to not like those ones but there’s good reason for that)

  5. One exception to talking about work. Presumably when we have been through a worship service we have learned something and perhaps we have learned something that would affect how we do our work or how we relate to a co-worker, or something. Don’t we learn anything at church? I admit that even when I think I did learn something I don’t necessarily talk about it. But shouldn’t we? and shouldn’t what we learn impact our work? I don’t even watch a movie unless there is some chance I will gain some new insight or sharpen some old insight. Those are the movies I remember and get excited about. I think worship should be at least that good.

  6. What I really hate is dreaming about work. That’s Brian’s subconscious’s time.

  7. Ten years ago, when I was back in uni, I took a developmental psychology class and learned most people in my age group (25-49 or so, I’m 39 now) supposedly define themselves by their work. It apparently is very much a thing in the Western world.

    I appreciate you noting one of my frustrations, Kenneth. It means a lot to me… although, today, my physio aide noted gray and white hairs on my head, so, I don’t know how much longer I can be considered young 😉 I should clarify, though, the men in my age group at church don’t talk LOTS about work specifically– they just reference it a lot and it’s their context. I can’t count the number of times, mostly at church social functions (and sometimes funerals), guys ask me some variation of “So, what do you do for work?” My congregation knows better than to ask me that anymore, but… well, again, guys my age, their context is their employment, to a large degree.

    • When I was working in the counseling field, people who “defined” themselves by work was very common, and doing so can be dangerous because our vocation is not always the most ideal thing to find self fulfillment through

  8. I don’t watch television. I have found in certain groups, that this lack of conversational currency, makes it hard to relate on anything. I have no idea what they are talking about. In my opinion there is nothing quite as boring as listening to someone else talk about football or breaking bad or whatever is on television at the time.

  9. I find it difficult to talk about things that are trite and banal. Therefore I speak only to the aliens of my mind who have a higher intellect than myself. It is really lonely up there. Being sarcastic is a suite I enjoy and wear often.

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