I am struck nearly every day how many people answer the “How are you?” question with VERY BUSY! It’s almost become the new “Fine, how are you?” retort. In fact, very busy is the new norm that doesn’t tell us much about the person.

I’m not criticizing you, because I hear myself say the same thing. Even with myself, I find it boring, boring, boring.

In fact, I get the feeling that even if we were NOT very busy, we would say we were very busy. What would our professional fate be if we said, “I’m not busy and have all the time I need to think strategically and think big”?  We’d be looking for the next pink slip or embarrassed about our business results…right?

So, what’s the alternative?  Here are some ideas:

First, we are almost always likely to have a short first response. Try these on for the next “How are you?”

  • Great!
  • Better than fine!
  • Loving my work!
  • A bit overwhelmed, but engaged in great stuff!
  • And, if it’s just not a good day, find a way to say “Okaay, but it’s becoming a challenging week.”
  • Or, if it’s a good friend, tell the truth–just don’t give them the boring version.

Second, you can make a quick segway into something relevant to the person.

  • We are fast, moving in on on our project results…
  • I’m carving out some time to….
  • You might be interested in…

I’m going to try it this week, giving the genuine, relevant answer to the everyday question “How are you?”