9

Another week, another Monday and another same old unpleasant question (at least for me) - What did you do for the weekend?

A couple years ago I moved to another country in western Europe from South-East of Europe. As you might be familiar, the culture is a bit different between these two regions, but that mostly depends of a person's adaptability and how strong he is holding to his values (religion and tradition).

So, from this point on, I would like to exclude those dimensions of differences between people, and focus on other dimensions (mentioned bellow).

Now, very often at work I've been asked by my colleagues "what did you do for the weekend"?! I find myself in very uncomfortable position answering this question because of several reasons.

First, for the sake of simplicity let's consider that I am some form of introvert, geek and hard-working person. This means that most of my weekends I am spending on learning and working on something (sometimes related to work, sometimes very different from it).

Second, I am seeing this question as a way to express to others what they did, by replying to it and then asking back what they did. I do understand that this is very basic way to create ongoing discussion, but I also know that I am often being judged by doing what I want and not "enjoying life instead" (by their definition).

On other hand, I feel very comfortable speaking about very wide range of topics like economics, technology or anything which is not really personal (seems logical for introvert, right?). Another thing why not speaking about personal things matters to me, is because I found that mostly in my line of job, if I keep personal relationship out is the best for everyone. Very often my ideas at work, threatened some positions around me, and they acted defensively on it. So, I have difficult time to keep the balance between sharing personal life, and competing with the colleagues at the same time. To be also clear, I am not rude at all while I am working my job, but very often I am stating facts citing resources and addressing the real problems. I am also not a solo player, in fact very helpful to those who want me to help. And also I am aware of this question, but I didn't find the answers satisfying.

How can you address to those questions in a way that it'll be polite, but acknowledge them you are not fine answering those question over and over again? I would like to hear more like a general answer that can be applied to a different organizations, rather than to my current position.

  • 4
    Do you know for certain if they are expecting specific details, or just a vague outline? In many places, "how was your weekend" is just typical morning banter and won't mean anything in the long run. – user8671 Oct 15 '18 at 8:42
  • @Kozaky, I don't think it is just a vague outline, because several times already, while speaking on other topics like saving accounts, some of them mentioned that I should enjoy the life more. Now, this is a profile they have created for me. I don't think that it is also about specific details. – lowselfesteemsucks Oct 15 '18 at 8:46
  • Most introverts I know enjoy talking about personal stuff and spend their weekends doing things that might be more popular. I think it is a reasonable question to ask - how do you sell what you do as interesting without coming across as the kind of person people don't like - I hope you get the right answer, but could you remove your introvert stuff? I find it borderline offensive tbo. Not every introvert is x, that's just stereotypes and let's not spread them further. You just happen to be both introverted and really into working hard – Raditz_35 Oct 15 '18 at 11:47
  • @Raditz_35 thanks for your suggestion, I think you are right about being introvert and edited the post. – lowselfesteemsucks Oct 15 '18 at 12:06
19

Generally this is just fairly unimportant conversation and shouldn't be taken too seriously... The answer, "Oh nothing much", or "Just relaxed", (or "enjoyed the good weather" if it was good) and then follow up by asking them back is enough to satisfy most people who ask this question. If they've done anything interesting they'll tell you and then you can talk about that.

I don't really think you can let them know that you don't like being asked that question without coming across as rude or odd... You may as well be telling them you don't like small talk.

Either that or preempt it by asking them first!

7

People listen to you so they will know when they can start talking about themselves

Such question is not asked because person asking it is curious about what did you do.
And from personal experience, as western European working in multicultural company in western Europe, asking such question is not part of our routine. We are taught that such question should be asked because A) it's what English speaking people do B) it help know other people you work with in corporal environment. In groups where majority are western European such question will be rarely asked. And IF it's just because people want their turn to tell YOU how did they spend their time.
For us question and answer are just copies of English "how you doing? - fine".
For most people in my company, that I know, it's enough to say few times "not bad" to stop asking this question.

Because it's small talk any answer is good "Chillin" "eating" "doing some stuff" or "Didn't get drunk and get into a fist fight for sure, how bout you?".

I usually answer with "stuff.... and things". If you're feeling really adventurous you can say, staring at a distance "doing the right thing" and then stare into their eyes and add "I hope".

Unfortunately, because it's typical water tank thing, you will hear this question every Monday, probably from new people who don't know you yet, or from people from countries that they don't think they could NOT ask it. Just because it's expected to be polite by taking interest in other people life not really caring about it.

  • Can you tell us more about why you think this is a good idea? Answers on Interpersonal Skills SE need to be well-justified and backed up with either evidence or personal experience or well-elaborated logic that shows the OP that this is a good idea. See this meta post for more information on how to write a good answer. – ElizB Oct 19 '18 at 0:11
2

Regarding your second point,

I also know that I am often being judged by doing what I want and not "enjoying life instead" (by their definition).

Just reply that whatever you did (be it reading, learning, tinkering, etc.) is something you like.

This may help your colleagues get a better grasp of what constitutes "enjoying life" for you (and maybe others), and ultimately make them less judgemental.

They might even find your hobby relatable to one of theirs, and start showing real interest instead of just bragging about their own week-end exploits. :-)

1

If you think they are just asking out of politeness and really just want to get on to the subject of what they did at the weekend then it really doesn't matter too much what you say. So some brief, truthful answers you could give might be:

  • "Mainly reading. What about you?"
  • "I just spent time on my hobbies. What about you?"
  • "Just relaxing. What about you?"

If you include asking about their weekend then you quickly move the conversation along and it is less likely they will quiz you as to what "relaxing" included, or what your "hobbies" are.

Having said that, maybe by hiding your interests you are keeping yourself trapped in a cycle of facing this question every week. If you are transparent and let your colleagues know what you are interested in and how you like to spend your time then chance are they will ask you less, or not be surprised when they ask and you repeat the answer.

If you are embarrassed about your choices of recreation then when you describe them you will sound introverted - which I know you say you are, but there are more positive ways of looking at this. If you really enjoy reading and learning in your spare time then present this in an enthusiastic way.

You could perhaps say:

I really enjoy reading and learning new things, so I spend most of spare time doing that. I have lots of personal projects on the go. That takes up most of my weekend. I love it.

I find that people only "judge" if they see something unusual. If you present what you did in a joyless way they will find it unusual that someone would spend time doing things that did not bring them enjoyment. But if you really do like to do these things and choose to do them on the weekend, show that you enjoy it and then it won't seem so unusual. And if you do get jokes or comments about your choices, try and laugh them off.

I have used this anecdote in an answer before but I feel it is apt - I used to work with someone who spent his weekends riding on trains. He spent a year hiding that from everybody, and people thought he was "strange" because it was obvious he was dodging questions about where he was going and what he was doing. But when he finally explained it, even though people didn't understand the appeal, they were more accepting of him because they understood him.

0

How can you address to those questions in a way that it'll be polite, but acknowledge them you are not fine answering those question over and over again?

I don't know much about the culture where you live, but this question is really common where I do.

I would suggest, first of all, not to give it that much of importance. An easy way to avoid talking about personal stuff you did during the weekend, whether it was work/learning/fun, is a simple answer:

Colleague: What did you do for the weekend?
You: You know, regular stuff, relaxing. What about you?

Note that, when you reply like this for two to three times, your colleagues should eventually understand that you'll never give up details.

In my opinion, this way you'll actually give an answer, without giving up any personal details and throw the ball back at your colleague.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.