"Good, a lot going on!"
"Tons of work!"
My guess is that you hear these responses more days than not. If you talk to other people that is.
One of our most common questions is "How are you doing?" Generally, it is accepted that a simple answer consisting of a couple of words is what is appropriate here. And the one I hear more than any? "Busy."
We wear busy as a code of honor in our society. But that answer doesn't actually get us anywhere. It doesn't grow our business. It doesn't deepen our relationships. If anything, it puts distance between us and the person we are talking to. The insinuation is that we have a lot going on, it better be worth our while to talk to you or we are moving on.
We do it because it is easy, and simple, and almost a pre-programmed response. But what if there were a different way to answer this question that would completely change your relationships and your business? Both in the online social media world, as well as in the offline world?
Marginal Gains and Social Media Relationships
One of my favorite stories to share is about the bicycle coach who led his team to victory by improving every area of their performance by 1%.
The reason I love this is because it is a great way to introduce the concept of marginal gains. Basically, that changing little things consistently really do add up.
Often when we think about relationship building, social media marketing, or selling our business, we think about the big things. The "numbers game" so to speak. We think that if we reach out to enough people, or send enough emails, or post enough times on Facebook that we will start getting the business and the client relationships we really want.
But what if we are making things harder on ourselves than we have to? What if we could apply marginal gains and make small tweaks that would improve every area of our life and business almost effortlessly, doing the things that we already do.
How we answer the question "how are you doing" is one of those areas. In my experience, making a small change here has opened more doors and opportunities than I can count, and it is something that you can start getting into the habit of too - starting today!
A New Way to Answer
As I mentioned, when we simply say "Busy!" we are putting distance between ourselves and the other person, rather than drawing them closer.
"Fine" or "good" also give no new information. They are polite responses, but don't share in any way.
What if instead, you shared something specific to you? What if you helped them connect to your world? And at the same time provided an opportunity for them to understand what your needs are in your life and business?
Let me give you some examples.
Let's say that you are a business owner who is hiring an assistant. Yes, you are busy. That is why you are hiring someone. What if told someone that? Here is how that conversation might go:
Friend: How are you?
You: Great! I am in the hiring process for a new assistant for my business!
Friend: Wow, that is awesome, what skills are you looking for?
Perhaps your friend knows someone who is looking for a job. Maybe this will prompt them to ask more about your business and you will both find out that they are a perfect new client. You would have missed the connection entirely if you hadn't been willing to share.
Friend: How are you?
You: Really busy, I just launched a new course about how to use LinkedIn to grow your business!
Friend: Oh really? Tell me more, I have been trying to start using LinkedIn, but it is not really working for me!
Often we are quick to make assumptions about other people, especially if they are only acquaintances. And they are making the same judgements about us. Under the surface may lie the opportunity you have been looking for, and you will miss it if you are not willing to share.
Now, it is true that sometimes nothing will come of the conversation. But even then, the person you are speaking with has a better idea what you do, which may prompt an introduction or other opportunity later. And you have had a chance to start a meaningful conversation without being pushy or "salesy" in any way.
Bonus: Prompting Helpful Answers
You know how to answer the question now to get the most out of the conversation, but how do you return the favor? How can you get the person you are talking to to dive deeper than a "fine" or "busy" response? What will open the door to giving you opportunities to know how to help them, connect them, or be of value to them as well?
Stop asking "How are you?" Most responses will be meaningless. Instead ask one of the following when you are reaching out to someone:
How Will You Change?
Now, time to start making the shifts so you can see results from this strategy! Think about how you will start asking better questions, and answering "how are you" with more clarity and relationship building finesse.
If you have found this helpful, can you do me a huge favor? Share on your favorite social media channel! The more we can improve people's ability to build meaningful relationships with each other, the more we can change the world. It all starts with the little things. Thank you!