Ever notice how many times a day you ask “how are you?” to a friend on the phone, a coworker in passing, or the teller at the bank, and then realize you didn’t really listen to their answer, or – worse – even care what it was? (I am so guilty of this! Why even bother asking?) On the flip side, how many times a day does someone ask you this same question, and your answer is the standard but not nearly accurate, “I’m fine” because you assume they don’t really care how you really feel? Last question: don’t you find that people who actually listen to you are so much more likeable, and people who tell you “I’m happy to be alive” rather than just “good” are far more exciting and inspiring in the “I’ll have what she’s having” kind of way? Yea, me too.
We’re all rushing off to our next destination, too busy to stop and talk to every person we pass, but I believe we can put in more effort to connect with others. After all, we’re humans…we have a desire for communication and connectedness! Being aware of phrases we aren’t using enough or using properly is the first step toward truly communicating with those we are in touch with, including ourselves. Notice if the following phrases are ones you use, and think about how you use them. Then make sure you have a habit of saying them with meaning.
1. “How are you?”
Don’t ask this if you aren’t going to stick around to listen to the answer. But if you ask this while in passing, at least look directly into the person’s eyes and smile. Don’t look away until they’ve answered you back. I think we tend to ask and immediately look down as we forge ahead. It’s like closing a book one page before the ending. At least have the decency to sustain eye contact.
I’m really not a fan of just “thanks”; I much prefer “thank you very much”, “I appreciate your help” or even just “thank you”, but “thanks” sounds like you don’t really mean what you’re saying. It seems so minor but it’s worth it if you really are appreciative of someone’s time and energy. Saying “I’m sorry” too much has been said to be a bad thing that women do; I also think we tend to be over-complimentary, but I don’t think you can ever be too thankful, so… thank away, but be sure it’s spoken sincerely.
3. “I’m so lucky”
How about “I’m so blessed”? Sure, some things happen by luck, but if you stop to think about it, so much is really outside of our control that the wonderful things that happen to us are more of a blessing than luck. And when we focus on our blessings (for instance, believing that things happen for a reason) rather than luck (for instance, chalking it up to being in the right place at the right time) we’re more apt to realize how great our life really is and to look on the bright side when it truly matters.
The list goes on and on of things we say that could stand to be said with more meaning, or how we can stand to be better listeners. Think about some things you say daily that you’d like to improve on how it is delivered and received, and be prepared to come across as a thoughtful, sincere person with a talent for connecting with friends and strangers alike!