December 20, 2013
How Are You Doing? by Gerald Meck
I exercise regularly. The other day, while at the gym I asked a senior gentleman, How are you? This is the standard way I greet people. On this particular day, I was in a hurry to complete my routine. I asked the question out of habit rather than out of genuine interest in the person.
Often, people respond by saying, Doing well, or Fine, thank you. However, this individual responded to my question by telling me his story. He said he was late coming to the gym because his car ran out of gas. He said his gas gauge doesn’t work and he has to estimate how much is left in the tank. He sometimes misjudges this. He said that even though he was late he was glad to be at the gym and start his workout.
I decided to count the number of times people ask me, How are you? I was surprised that in a very short period of time ten different people asked me how I was doing. I thought perhaps I should find a different way to greet people. But out of habit later in the day, I asked the same question of someone I have known for a long time. He told me he was dealing with a serious health problem. Again, I was not prepared to hear more than a perfunctory response, even though I had invited him to tell me how he was doing.
These encounters reminded me of John C. Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. Maxwell states that we are bombarded with thirty-five thousand messages a day. On an average, most individuals speak about sixteen thousand words a day. If you transcribed those words, they’d fill a 300-page book every week. At the end of a year, you would have an entire bookcase full of words. In a lifetime, you’d fill a library. Maxwell asks, How many of our words really matter?
As a consultant, I usually start my coaching sessions by asking a client how they are doing. If I am paying attention, and ready to listen, this question opens the door for connecting with the person and what they are experiencing. It opens the door for me to influence them, and for them to influence me.
Let me ask you how you are doing. As a leader, do you use words to connect? Do you move from perfunctory questions and responses, to genuine connection? Please join me in being more intentional with this.