As Hari Raya Aidilfitri is just a couple of days away, many of us would be travelling back to our hometowns to celebrate the festivity with family and friends.
It will be without fail that there will many opportunities to meet family and friends where they may ask something awkward but well-meaning.
Topics such as your professional careers to your-term life plans; getting married, having children & etc.
Instead of going back to be recluse behind our gadgets and avoid answering these questions, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, has provided tips on how to respond differently to these questions to help create more meaningful conversations.
Here are some common questions relatives may ask you at every Raya gathering:
- “Are you working? / What do you do?”
Relatives might want to find out if you can still receive the annual duit raya (green packet) which are reserved for children and non-working adults.
Even though nothing has changed since the last Raya, they are likely to have forgotten what you said or even what you do.
Tip 1: Remember that they care about you and are genuinely interested to see you progress in your career, so explain in simple but memorable words.
Think about your LinkedIn profile headline, for example. If you are an application developer for a game studio, try saying “I help design and build games to allow people like you and me play games on the smartphone”.
- “Can you make much money in your industry? / Why don’t you change to a different industry like your cousin?”
There are some career choices that are perceived as less prestigious than others. Our parents’ generation is more familiar with traditional professions like teachers, engineers, lawyers and doctors.
It can be challenging to explain your career or industry to someone who doesn’t share the passion for your work, or don’t understand it. Remember many job titles today were not known a decade ago.
Tip 2: No matter how provocative the questions may be, start by sharing why you chose your profession and industry, and why you love what you do.
If you are a chef, help them understand that you love making delicious and healthy food and enjoy seeing people satisfied with their meal.
This may inspire them, and at the same time, you can also share how you find it fulfilling. You can also share some of your achievements and future goals for good measure!
- “So, do you get huge discounts, watch free movies, eat for free or and get lots of goodies from your job?”
A common assumption upon the mention of recognisable brands or type of services is that you’d be entitled to amazing employee benefits.
While this may be true for some, it can create a somewhat uncomfortable situation if relatives and friends request for similar benefits of you, even if in jest.
Tip 3: The keyword here is “assumption” and is best addressed by responding professionally as how you would explain it to a future colleague.
Take the opportunity to speak of any career-enrichment or upskilling program offered by your company, or how your work culture is rewarding to your personal growth.
- “Have you been promoted this year? / Did you get a big Raya bonus?”
This can be an intimidating question especially if you’ve just entered the workforce or have recently started a new career.
While some relatives tend to have unrealistic expectations of you, often times this is asked genuinely out of care.
Tip 4: This is the perfect opportunity to share your personal highlights since you last met – for example the new venture you have started, or a great assignment that gave you the chance to grow your team.
You can share your aspirations, shifting the conversation from promotions and pay-rises to developing new skills and achieving other more meaningful successes.
Don’t forget, success comes in many shapes and forms, and a high position isn’t the only way to measure success.
- “When are you going to get married?! / Are you too focused on your career?”
This question usually leads to more questions about your relationship status, followed by well-meaning recommendations from your elders.
It can be especially tough for Millennials between 25-33 years old.
A LinkedIn study on what psychologists would call a ‘quarter-life crisis’ found that three-quarters of Malaysians in that age bracket feel pressured to succeed in relationships, career or finances even with existing full-time jobs.
Tip 5: The best way to deal with this is to use this opportunity to emphasize how you are able to spend more time for self improvement. Remember that everyone is at a different stage of their career, so don’t compare yourself to others.
At the end of the day, no matter how awkward the questions may be, keep in mind that your happiness matters and success mean different things to different people.
After all, Hari Raya Aidilfitri is all about accepting, understanding and renewing your ties with a forgiving heart.
Spend these wonderful moments with those you cherish and by making these tips your own, this might be the year that your family and relatives start to better understand your passion, your career choices and your idea of success!