Bio: Callista Gould is a certified etiquette instructor and founder of the Culture and Manners Institute.
If someone in your workplace says, “How are you today?” do you encourage conversation or shut down conversation? Do you say, “Fine”? Or do you say, “Well, since you asked, my back is killing me, my allergies are acting up, my car’s transmission just went ker-poof, my dog ran away and…”?
Both these answers shut down conversation. The first, because the shorter your answer, the harder others must work to drag the conversation out of you. Not everyone will make the effort. The second, because people who use a simple question to unload a dump truck of misery, wear out the askers. It’s likely the askers won’t ask again. Your ability to carry on a conversation with work colleagues eases daily interactions and promotes communication. It also makes conversation easier with clients, vendors and other stakeholders.
How can you engage people in conversation? Take that short answer and add a little nugget of information to promote a project, initiative or person:
-“Never better. We had a great brainstorming session this morning on how to reach a younger demographic.”
-“I was a little stressed, because we had a shipment that was lost. But it’s been found and we’re back on track.”
-“It’s a good day. We hired a new manager and she is exceeding all expectations.”
The key is to not give an answer that is too long, with too much detail. If there is an issue that warrants further discussion, arrange for a time to meet with the person.
Notice the sample answers have a positive outlook. Never complain, without having some solutions or an idea where to seek help. Complaining is just an inability to solve problems.
“How are you?” If you encourage rather than shut down conversation, you will be outstanding.
Can’t get enough? Follow us on Twitter @MannersThatMove
Get more tips at the Culture and Manners Institute.