Have you noticed how often you’re greeted with, “Hi, how are you?” (or “Hey, how ya’ doin’?”), depending on the circles you travel in)?
Today I counted 18 times so far and it’s only 4:00pm. I’m working alone and only left the office for one brief errand. Do you work in an office with hundreds of other folks in the building? That’s a lot of questions thrown your way.
For healthy people, this greeting, which is really a question, is no big deal. If asked, they’d say they’re just being polite. But if you live with waxing and waning chronic illness, this is a very loaded question for you. It’s something you think about a lot. This simple question can be a sticky problem.
I know because I’ve struggled with it for years. Answer, “I’m fine”, when I’m actually awful, and I feel like I’m lying or not being authentic. On the other hand, too many times, the truth hit the wrong note. “Well, my legs are shaking. I’m having trouble standing – my bladder is a problem, and….” I’m just getting warmed up as the other person was halfway down the hall. I was talking to air. Or I got a look, cross-eyed, as if to say, “Too much information, thank you!”
But there are times when a colleague, supervisor or a direct report wants or needs to know how you are actually doing. He/she expects a truthful response.
But who has the time to figure all this out when there’s real work to get done?
One of the cool things about coaching is that as I help my clients develop insights, I get to learn along the way, too. Recently, when a client was struggling with various communications-based issues at work, I saw this interaction in a different light.
And that helped me see how it doesn’t have to be so complicated. It gets much easier if you consider these 3 points:
- What is the nature of your relationship with this person?
- How could your response influence what would happen between you next?
- Are you ready for this person’s response to what you might say?
Clearly this isn’t something that you can do every time you get asked, “How ya’ doin’ ?” But you can practice and think about. Try it at work where you have varied relationships and ways of interacting. Set yourself the intention to respond in a way that achieves what you want and need.
Let me know how it goes.