Identity is more than a job title

Our identity as a person is very often linked closely to our job title.

  • This is Miss Jones, she is a solicitor.
  • This is Mr Smith, he is an accountant.
  • This is Mr Khan, he is a social worker.
  • This is Mrs Robins, she works in a call centre.

Who they are, what their identity is, is very often the first thing you find out after finding out someone’s name. That identity is part of your connection to them then. You make judgements, views and assumptions based on this information about them. You start to see them in a different way depending on what the information is that you are told about them.

A job is more than what you do and who you do it for. A job is more than what keeps you occupied between your start time and your finish time. A job is who you are. At least, for a large number of people who know you. A job is an identity.

Why should what we do for employment be such a large part of how we see someone? Why should this label make such an impression on us when we meet someone? Is identity that important to us in making decisions on people we meet? Why is an identity that important to us?

Identity is important
Identity is important

If I was introduced to Miss Jones and Mr Smith, would their occupation have any impact on me? Are we generally more impressed or respectful of people in these trades or careers? Mrs Robins and Mr Khan may be much nicer people and build a better impression on us when we meet them, but their occupations bring up different reactions from people.

I understand why we need certain information about people when we meet them, so we can try and find connections and topics that may be good introductory conversations, but my worry is that someone’s identity is subsumed by just what they do for work rather than who they are and how they are as a person.

By introducing someone as their job title, we are missing out so much more about who they are as a person. We may have much more of a connection with them if we found out some similarity or shared belief or value rather than what their job title is.

Our identity is important to us. Who we are is more than our job title. Our experiences contribute to who we are. Our values and beliefs do too.

To get your true identity across to someone is for them to see that there is more to you than just a job title. A job title is a part of who you are, but to some, it may be all of who they are, but to many or even most, it may be just part of their make-up of who they are as a person. I think it would be much better if we look beyond job titles and to try and find out more about the person behind it.

Who am I?
Who am I?

Job titles have evolved so much over the years. If you used to work in an office, you were often either a clerk, administrator or a manager. Nowadays there are so many different roles, titles, bands and grades that it is difficult to break down from a job title what that person actually does.

I am unable, to sum up my work with a job title. I need to put it into the context of my team’s work and put that into the context of the organisation as a whole. When a simple one-liner isn’t available for your job title, then your identity is getting slowly glossed over. Those initial thoughts are harder to form as to who this person is if you can’t sum up what it is they do.

The challenge for that person then is should they do a very high-level summary that glosses over what they actually do, or do they just not bother trying to explain it. That person’s identity is harder to define at that initial meeting. They are then playing catch-up from there onwards.

Someone’s identity is important and it helps them as a person communicate with others from their perspective. It helps them define who they are, and to open channels up to connect with others. Lines of similarity or recognition of scenarios is key when bonding with people. Sometimes we have to look a little deeper than just the job title to find out more about someone than just what they do for employment.

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