Please don’t ask “how are you?”

A new way to engage for deeper connection.

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A typical day

I’m in the middle of 100 things — you know, the last few weeks of school is nuts! I find the name in my contacts — just the last name. I pause to notice how impersonal that seems.

Amy, the receptionist, answers the phone. We make the appointments and then I ask “how are things?” After a long silence, she says “good, how about you?” Followed by another long silence.

My Rant

Then I begin this longish rant about how we both are very interesting people and it is so sad that we can’t some up with anything. We agree and then I suggest we re-frame the question. Rather than “How are you? Or How are things?”

We ask in a very genuine way, “what is the next thing you are excited about.”

Amy went first and told me about how they mended a fence, how will she garden that area with different amounts of sunlight . . .

(that metaphor of mending a fence and having it bring in new light was a complete accident — but so true. When we mend our transgressions, it offers fertile ground for new opportunities to happen, we may even see them in a new light.)

The crazy thing is — my next thing I’m excited about was gardening too!

Not only are we both very interesting people — we have the SAME interests.

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The best 5 minutes of my day

The entire conversation took maybe 5 minutes but I feel so connected to her well beyond our conversation. Now when we see each other at the appointment we made, we will, no doubt share photos of our gardens deepening our relationship.

All because we asked a different question.

Ask a different question

The next time someone asks “how are you” I’m suggesting that you respond back in this way. “Can I tell you about what I’m excited about today?” or “Can I tell you about (fill in the blank) that is important to me?” When we share in a different way, our connections will be different and hopefully a more profound connection.

What is the next thing YOU are excited about?

(As I was writing this I kept thinking about that movie where the girl responds to the marriage proposal with “if you want a different answer, ask a different girl.” A profound nugget of truth. I think Harrison Ford was in the movie. I’m not good with remembering things like that.)

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