Sunday, July 8, 2012

“How are you?” No, I really mean it – How are you?

Walking down the main shop aisle a week ago, I crossed paths with another company executive.  I just had a very positive experience with one of her employees and I wanted to share the good news.  Leaders tend to get far more bad news than good, so I wanted to be sure I broke the trend.

We stopped for a moment and she asked me, “How are you doing?”  I basically did not answer and started to share the good news I had for her.  She politely interrupted and asked me again, “How are you doing?” I think I said “fine” and continued in my sharing.  A third time she asked me, “So, everything is going ok?”  It occurred to me that she was actually asking me a question and she was interested in my response.  The phrase, “How are you doing?” has somehow turned into a salutation or greeting as compared to a question.  I walked away from the exchange wondering how often I ask an introductory question and don’t listen to the answer. Or equally bad, how often the person answering believes their response is not important so they barely respond.

How do you open your conversations?  Do you “really” care how your team is doing?  How do you show it?


Karel Goodwin said...

I applaud your intention to share good news about a fellow employee. It is very rare that employee's share good news instead of bad news. I suggest answering the executive's "How are you doing" question quickly with a little detail and then transitioning to a "Can I tell you about a recent experience?" question. Wait for their answer.

Kirsten Parks said...

I'm guilty some times of asking the question and not really listening. I am trying to pay more attention to this as listening/caring is part of Relationship building (business and personally).

I hope the executive was really listening to your positive feedback so they in tern can appreciate the goodness of their employee and maybe take the opportunity to share it with the employee directly as recognition.

David Engle said...

I am an American expat living in Denmark. Interesting observation from another culture is that the standard "How are you." greeting is just that - not a question, but a greeting and the question poser is not actually interested in the answer. The experience we give foreigners is actually one of a superficial indifference to the real well-being of the other person.

That being said - thanks for breaking the norm and giving positive feedback!

Unknown said...

I love your graphic and saw it on the internet. I would love to use the picture in a report of a survey of parents of children with disabilities that asked how they were doing in Maine in this time in which schools are shuttered. May I have permission to use the picture?

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