More Than “Hello!” and “How are you?”
I suspect that most of us have been greeted by someone who said, “Hello!” or “How you are?” or even, “Greetings!”. While friendly, these polite but surface-level greetings do little to show any real interest in us, build a relationship, or develop a connection. Most of us have greeted others in a similar fashion also. Some relationships are temporary and purely functional—e.g., the checkout person at the drugstore—while others are intentionally deeper and longer-lasting—e.g., family members, friends, and co-workers.
There are many reasons for greeting others and attempting to engage in a conversation and build a relationship, including:
- showing interest,
- demonstrating empathy,
- being polite,
- doing what is socially acceptable,
- starting a conversation,
- acknowledging the other person,
- building a connection,
- understanding the other person’s context and situations, and
- opening the door to share our experiences.
What keeps us from asking questions that open the greeting to deeper, richer meaning and connection? We:
- Didn’t realize the impacts (or lack) of our greetings.
- Don’t know how ask more impactful question.
- Are intimidated by the other person’s position.
- Have history with the other person that is still unresolved or awkward.
- Think the other person might consider it too invasive.
- Don’t have time a response.
- Don’t want to engage with the other person.
- Aren’t interested.
- Don’t want to share our response to a genuine question.
“Don’t say ‘How are you?’…”
In her April 14, 2023 article, “Don’t say ‘How are you? Ask these 8 questions instead, says expert: ‘You’ll get a genuine response’”, Stephanie Harrison offered the following questions as greetings or better ways to engage others:
- “How are you, really?”
- “How are you doing right now?”
- “What’s been on your mind lately?”
- “If you were being completely honest with me, how would you describe your feelings lately?”
- “What’s feeling good, and what’s feeling hard?”
- “What word would you use to describe your life right now?”
- “The last time we talked, you were dealing with ______. How has that been lately?”
- “What question(s) do you wish someone would ask you right now?”
I add these options to this list:
- “What went well for you today?”
- “What has given you energy recently?”
- “What are you looking forward to?”
- “How do you feel about ______?”
Once we ask the question:
- Wait at least seven seconds for a response. Genuine questions require time to consider before responding.
- Truly listen to understand what the other person says.
- Notice what they do not share.
- Acknowledge what they shared.
- Repeat back the key points of what they shared.
- Pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, and actions in their response.
Building relationships requires effort by everyone involved. Start with yourself. Do your part to build the connections and relationships you want.
As always, I’m interested in your thoughts and ideas so do leave your comments, feedback, and suggestions below.
© 2023, John L. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.