Making the Question ‘How Are You?’ Really Count

A couple of days ago I had lunch with Andrew Grill at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden. Andrew is an excellent speaker on future trends and someone I try to catch up with on a reasonably regular basis.

Andrew had been catching up on my social media activity before our catch up and had watched the video on asking for help that sits on the top of my Twitter profile. The result of that was that he opened up over lunch, sharing a lot that has been going on in his life that I wouldn’t otherwise have been aware of. Rather than the usual superficial trading of updates on our business, we had a much more meaningful conversation and, I’d like to think, connected on a deeper level.

Andrew said to me that watching my video beforehand made him feel that it was ‘safer’ to share authentically with me than he might have felt otherwise.

This resonated strongly because the same day I had been reading a preview of former World Boxing Champion Billy Schwer‘s new book ‘Man Up’. In the book, Billy frequently makes the point that he shares his own vulnerability with his clients first and they then find it easier to open up to him. Billy also uses the same language as Andrew, ‘safe space’.

How many people around you – friends, family, colleagues, clients and more – have a story they are hiding from you? Something is happening in their lives and they are crying out for support but don’t feel able to ask. What impact could you have if you asked one person a week ‘how are you?’ with more meaning than a courteous ice breaker?

Just last Friday I interviewed BNI Founder Dr. Ivan Misner about this topic for my new book. Ivan shared with me a technique he has used to help people to open up called ‘Semantic Differential Questioning’. Here’s what Ivan suggested (4 mins 12 secs):