“How are you?” “Fine. How are you?”

How many times have we had that “conversation?” In reality, the exchange above is nothing more than a robotic response, programmed into our language without real meaning. And in these days of virtual communication, the phrase is even more hollow and trite.

Behavioral scientist Elizabeth Weingarten has a better solution – 20 of them actually, as opening lines for these unusual times that actually engage people in a conscious exchange. She offers 20 questions to ask instead of “How are you doing right now?” that will hopefully spur actual conversation instead of an empty “fine.”

Some examples include:

  • How are you taking care of yourself today?
  • What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
  • What’s something you own that feels useful?
  • What’s something that you miss that surprises you?
  • What’s something that you don’t miss that surprises you?

Whether you use them on your Zoom conferences, phone calls with friends or across the dinner table, Weingarten’s questions are sure to evoke a response that is far better than “fine.” Try one out today!

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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