“How Are You?”

A throw-away question… or one you are asking with sincerity?

In my capacity as an executive with a former employer, I used to work with an insurance broker by the name of John Spinner. Whenever I talked with him or saw him in person, he’d ask the standard question “How are you…” but with two additions.

how are youHis question was “How are YOU today?”…with heavy emphasis on the YOU. And the addition of the word “today” totally took the question out of the “throw-away” category to a question where the answer was important to him.

If in person, it was accompanied by a firm handshake and direct eye contact. If my answer was non-committal, John would follow up “no – really how are YOU?”

Agreed – I was a customer. But as time went on and John knew he had my business, he still asked the question same way. And if I responded in anything less that “A-OK John”, he’d ask “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Please note these exchanges took place over 30 years ago yet I still remember them.

The point is that this single aspect of John’s communication skills helped make him a very likeable fellow which in turn earned him referrals galore… and from referrals come new business and more referrals.

And remembering John’s approach to the routine “How are YOU today?” serves as a reminder to us all just how impactful the most simple of communications can be.

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