“How are you?” It’s a worn-out question that is part of a transactional greeting in many cultures. It’s even often said with no expectation for a real answer and when a real answer is given, it can often throw off the person that asked the question in the first place.
“How are you?” -You
“Honestly….not good” – The other person
“oh, ahhh… What’s going on?” – You (Meanwhile your mind is trying to grasp why the person answered you and what you are going to do next)
We can do better to have authentic greetings and conversation starters with others. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started in a few different circumstances depending on your level of relationship with the other person.
Great for everyone
No matter the circumstance or the level of the relationship, here are some good starters that you can use in your greeting.
What’s been keeping you busy?
I love this one because it’s inquisitive, requires a response, opens a door to all kinds of other conversations and it is non-intrusive.
What’s been the highlight of your day so far?
This kicks off the conversation in a positive way. It prompts the person to take a moment to reflect on how things have been going that day and the responses that are given are typically ways to connect with the person in a meaningful way.
What’s something that you are excited about?
This is a great one for people that you are meeting for the first time because it truly allows for answers from all over the place. They may hit you back with something at work, their personal life, their favorite TV show going on right now, and even things coming up in the near future.
For those that you already have a rapport with
These are great conversation starters and greetings that work well when you have at least a little rapport with the other person. Maybe awkward for someone that you’ve never met, but not too intrusive for those you know.
What have you been cooking?
We all love food. (And you can even find leadership in it PTB XXX) Sure food is about providing nutrition to our bodies, but it can also be a social event.
How are your spirits today?
A twist on How’s it going. This one will likely throw the person off for a second because they aren’t used to hearing this question, but once they take in the question, they’ll likely respond with something true and real.
What’s been challenging lately?
While this one has a chance to be less positive than others, it does give the other person a chance to share how they’ve overcome something recently. If they do share a challenge that they are going through and it lands a little less optimistic, this gives you a chance to follow up with some encouragement, compassion, and care.
Reconnecting with those you have a strong relationship with
There are lots of reasons we fall out of consistent touch with someone even without a years-long pandemic. These greetings and conversation starters dive right into an authentic and meaningful conversation
What have you learned lately?
For someone you are meeting for the first time, this may seem like an interview question. For the person that you’ve known a long time, it’s a question that shows your care and continued curiosity with the other person.
Tell me about something exciting that’s happened to you since the last time we were together.
This one gives the other person a chance to brag about themselves or share some great news to accelerate the conversation. This one is wide open as well for responses from their professional or personal life.
Tell me something that you’ve been grateful for lately.
This one takes a more reflective approach and can touch on challenges that they may have faced that they normally wouldn’t just come out and say. This goes straight for the heart of the other person.
Elevate your greeting and conversation starter game by trying out different questions that get the conversation going in a memorable way.
Make a better tomorrow.