When is the last time you asked someone how they were doing and they didn't answer with, "oh, I am SO busy!" Seriously, it is the go to answer! You could run into a friend you haven't seen in years, are trilled to see them and just can't wait to hear how wonderful their lives are and this is what happens:
YOU: Good to see you, how ya doin'? (excitedly waiting to hear all they are up to)
THEM: Oh, just sooo crazy busy, you? (there is always at LEAST three o's in 'so'!)
YOU: Oh yeah, me too. (deflated and hoping for more of an answer to work with)
THEM: Like, who knows where the time goes!
YOU: Yeah. Well. Good seeing you. (after all, what else is there to say?)
That has to be one of the most fruitless and frustrating conversations! You began all giddy because you are excited to see this person and your question is not only shot down but you end up parting ways and still having no idea what they are ACTUALLY busy doing!
I also find it discouraging when I decide to fight the urge to say 'yeah, me too' and eagerly share a mad cap adventure of my own only to be cut off by them saying, "yeah, I saw that on Facebook". Yup, another conversation killer.
What we are often not aware of are the messages we are sending when we do just answer with "I'm so busy". It is often interpreted to mean:
1) I have no time to enjoy a conversation with you and this is the easiest domino I can hit to bring the conversation to an abrupt end.
2) I have no desire to hear anything going on in your life either, so there is no need for you to share.
3) If you don't reply with, 'yeah, me too' when I tell you I am busy, you must not be as important, productive or ambitious as I am.
4) This is my barrier which will prevent you from learning any real truth about me.
Honestly, I don't believe we mean harm when we say we are 'soo busy'. More often than not, we all just want to feel useful, purposeful and appear like we are doing great things in the world. Deep down, somewhere in our Pandora's box of insecurities we believe that if we are busy, it must mean we are doing great things. And if the listener responds by saying, 'wow' or 'yeah, you are always on the go' we gain a temporary false sense of accomplishment; YES, I've MADE IT! I am busy therefore I am productive and saving the world!!
At one point, BUSY ended up equaling our worthiness.
(the fact that busy also doesn't necessarily mean we are productive or happy is an entire different musing!)
To avoid lame conversations in the futureI am now being more aware to do the following...
LISTENING - ONLY ask someone 'how they are doing' if I truly want to hear what they are doing! Be completely prepared to listen.
ASKING BETTER QUESTIONS- If I ask someone how they are doing and they reply with 'I'm just so busy', I will ask a MUCH more direct question about something I know they are involved in or ask about a family member. Or frankly, remove the question 'how are you doing' all together and go straight to that question of substance!
SHARING - When someone asks me the question, tell them a truth! I don't have to tell them my entire life story, or fill in every blank since we last met, but I could easily tell them what I did the day before. I will assume if they asked how I am, they actually want to know.
I am done with 'how are you' just being a platitude or something I say in passing which universally means, 'I see you, I am on the go, can't stop to talk'. I no longer want it to be a question I ask from an autopilot state and allow the persons answer to fall on deaf ears.
So heads up, if you see me in the street and you don't want to have a conversation, you better run to the other side!