Last week I offered three options for how to answer the question “How are you?” If you are initiating a conversation, you can do better than asking that question too.
If you are a manager, your greeting can set the tone for your conversation with employees and show interest in their work. Greet employees with one of these approaches:
- Focus on the positive. Ask “What’s the best thing that has happened (today/this week)?” That prompts the other person to recognize the good things and may offer you an opportunity to praise your employee for an accomplishment.
- Offer your service. “How can I make this a great day for you?” Clear a roadblock for your employee or assist that person with a challenge.
- Seek information. “What would you like me to know today?” Encourage team members to speak up and share what they know. Perhaps a piece of equipment is malfunctioning or a new process is yielding exceptional results. You’ll learn more when you ask open-ended questions that specifically invite employees to share information and opinions with you.
What’s your favorite question to start a conversation?
The greeting “How are you?” is so standard that the reply often becomes perfunctory. It doesn’t have to be.
The question presents an opportunity. Here are three ways to make your response meaningful:
- Project a positive attitude.It’s hard not to smile when the response to “How are you?” is a big grin and “If my life were any better I’d have to hire someone to help me enjoy it!”You don’t have to go that far, though. Even a simple “Super!” is better than “Fine.” Years ago I adopted the response “Peachy!” for a few weeks. Things actually weren’t going well for me, but my response was honest—No one made the connection that a late frost had severely damaged that year’s peach crop.
- Brag a bit. If calling attention to your accomplishments is difficult for you, this is a subtle way to make sure your efforts don’t go unnoticed. When someone asks “How are you?” say something like “I’m thrilled today, because my team closed a deal that we have been working or for three weeks” or “I’m excited, because I just learned that I’ll be serving on the Employee Rewards Committee.”
- Lead into a request. Respond and move the conversation along at the same time. Couple your reply with why you are approaching the other person. Example: “My day will be perfect if you can …”
Come back next week to discover three better questions than “How are you?”
What’s your favorite response to “How are you?”