This noise of the banter wagon fills our days.
Phil: “How are you Bob?”
Bob: “Great, how are you Phil?”
Phil: “Fantastic, thanks”
Both: (See you tomorrow for the same meaningless conversation. Maybe I’ll change ‘great’ to ‘super’ and ‘fantastic’ to ‘fabulous’ just to spice things up).
Meanwhile, Bob’s marriage is falling apart. Phil just had his second harassment lawsuit filed against him and the infraction is on video. Hopefully Phil didn’t harass Bob’s wife but do we REALLY want to know?
“How’s it going?”
“How are you?”
“What are you doing this weekend?”
“What did you do last weekend?”
“Are you ready for summer?”
“What’s up with this weather?”
“This year has gone by so fast, can you believe it’s September?”
Do we really want to know that this has been the longest year of her life because of the cancer, divorce, arrest, job loss?
Are you really asking? Do you really want to know? What of we know this? Will we do something different? Do we even care?
If you really care and have time, let’s talk. If you don’t, please don’t ask.
Most of us have listened to a radio or a tv interview when this script happens:
Angela the host: “Next we go to Julie Smith, she is an expert in weather.”
Julie Smith: “Yes Angela, how are you. The weather this week is going to be rough…blah blah blah.”
Angela the host: “Wow, thanks for that report”.
Notice I didn’t put a ? After the ‘how are you’. It wasn’t a question. It was noise. Some of us have heard similar noise while we are all on a conference call. We might all be on mute or worse, 25 people respond at once, except for the person that is not ok. They were quiet.
This small meaningless chatter has invaded our lives. When we ask a loved one or close team member, we mean it! When someone calls us at the office to sell us a copier, they don’t. Should we just get down to the real reason they called?
When we respond with more banter, we fill the air with disingenuous noise. Or worse, they actually TELL US THE TRUTH!
Some of us will:
-Argue that it’s courtesy.
-Say it’s just nice to ask.
-Claim that we do care about everyone we meet.
All of us can evaluate those claims ourselves…honestly. If we are asking someone that just happens to be passing in the same hallway, there may not be time to ask “how are you?” with a meaningful conversation from each other.
The reality is that we are all afraid to discuss real issues. Society has told us to avoid politics and religion when these two factions are such powerful influences in our lives. In some areas, people are so sensitive and so many things are taboo that we aren’t allowed to talk about anything with the fear of an HR call tomorrow.
Phil: “Hey Bob, lets get together to wrap up that presentation that is due on Friday.”
Bob: “Sounds good Phil. How about at 11am tomorrow in the conference room?”
Phil: “OK, see you then.”
It’s there anything wrong with that conversation?
Have the courage not to be a robot. Have the courage to ask how people are doing, but only if you care. Have the courage to be genuine (both as an asked and an askee). If we don’t care, let’s skip the noise and move on to what matters.
What do you think? Likes, comments, and shares are greatly appreciated.