Are you fine?

What’s the response you hear most often when you ask the question. ‘How are you?’

What’s the response you hear most often when you ask the question. ‘How are you?’

I’ve noticed that there are three primary answers.

  1. Fine
  2. Busy
  3. Really Busy

None of these are adequate answers. Perhaps it’s not really a question that expects, or has time for a detailed response.

Are you fine?

It’s an important question to know the answer to though, especially if you manage a team and especially now as we go from lockdown and remote working that we’ve got used to – to something different.

When we’re faced with uncertainty human beings feel threatened. We want to feel certain and safe. Don’t underestimate how emerging from lockdown will impact everyone in your team, and it is likely to impact them all differently. That’s why it’s really important to understand how people are doing beyond ‘fine’ and varying degrees of busy.

If you don’t know how your colleagues are, it’s hard to help them. It’s also harder to know how people are really doing if you can’t meet in real life. It’s harder to pick up on non-verbal cues; the way someone is sitting, their energy and their overall demeanour on a screen. It can be easier to hide if you’re not OK too.

That’s why I want to share with you one simple question that will help you as a manager understand more about how your colleagues are, and therefore give you a better opportunity to support them.

At the Lucidity Network we support people with learning and development including resilience and wellbeing. Our in-house HR expert Rachel Atkinson, founder at Red Feather Consulting regularly shares her top tips.

Change the question

Instead of asking ‘How are you’? Rachel suggests asking How are you feeling on a scale of 1-5?’  With 1 that you’re feeling ghastly and 5 that you’re feeling fabulous.

  • This makes it hard for the person to answer ‘fine’ or ‘busy’ which effectively closes down a conversation.
  • When someone says their number, you can then ask why that is, and if they’re anything less than a 5, you can enquire about what you might be able to do to nudge them closer to a 5.
  • This question opens up conversations about how a person is feeling and what they might need from you to support them.
  • It can help people tell you they’re not great in a simple way. Saying ‘I’m a 1 today’ can somehow feel easier for many people than saying ‘I’m at burnout’.
  • It helps the person responding consider how they are really feeling, rather than the auto pilot ‘fine’ or ‘busy’.
  • It works in one to ones, in team meetings or meetings involving different teams and departments.
  • It works online – as a facilitator, asking people to put where they are on the scale in the chat box can help you judge the room, the pace and the style required to get the outcomes you want.

What do you think? Give it a go and let us know how you get on.

Thank you Rachel for the inspirational tips. If you’d like to join us at the Lucidity Network and benefit from Rachel’s expertise then there’s more information on how to join us here.

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