About two years ago, our daughter spent 18 months in Moscow, Russia.
She observed that one of the major cultural differences between Russians and Americans was how they greeted each other. Americans will often walk down the hall saying “Hey, how are you?”, and just as casually walk past not waiting for the answer.
Emma, our daughter, quickly learned that this doesn’t fly in Russia. If you ask a question, you’re expected to have time for the answer and honesty.
So here’s the challenge: ask people how they’re doing, and pause for the answer.
IMPORTANT: you can only ask this question if you are willing to freeze in place and take time to wait for that answer. Now you may think, “I can’t do this for everyone I pass in the hall.”
Exactly. That’s the whole point. Get out of the habit of asking people how they’re doing in passing. If you don’t have time, just smile in passing. But when you ask someone how they are doing, make sure that they realize that they are the most important person of that moment. Break the habit of asking questions for which you don’t have time to hear the answer.
Take this week to stop, and see the power of the pause.