Today I shared with my students a technique to help move past the awkward first question, “How are you?” Sometimes in a new situation, like in an interview or when seeing someone you’re wanting to engage, this question can stall the conversation. If you answer, “Fine. You?” the conversation feels choppy and even boring. Instead, when someone asks you, “How are you doing?” don’t answer with an emotion. Answer with what you’ve been thinking about.
So imagine: How are you?
Well, I’ve been thinking about how excited I am to see my family this weekend. You?
I’ve been thinking about my next steps in my thesis writing. What about you?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much I love autumn. You?
Putting things into the cognitive category of conversation often opens up new possibilities of connection. You’ll invite your conversation partner to answer in the same pattern of what they’ve been thinking about. In fact, I rarely ask someone, “How are you?” Instead, I’ll ask a cognitive question. “Hey! I haven’t seen you in a while. What have you been thinking about lately?”