“No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out. No one is going to say, ‘Wow, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.'” – Nobody Wants to Hear How Busy You Are

Saying, “Busy!” has become the automatic non-answer when somebody asks, “How are you?” It immediately shuts down an interaction and any opportunity for constructive conversation is dashed upon the rocks of ineloquence. If you find yourself responding this way a lot, it may be worth some effort to figure out why you’re so busy (or at least saying you are).

  • Track your time with software like Rescue Time or with pen-and-paper to help you discover what is causing you to feel so busy.
  • Became more mindful of your language. Try responding by saying what you’re working on right now.

Saying you’re busy is a verbal crutch that means nothing in today’s work reality.

  • D'Anne Hotchkiss

    You are right. “Busy” can sound like code for “leave me alone” or, “I don’t have time for you.” The truth is, rarely are we so close to a deadline that we cannot take a minute for a real, albeit short, conversation. Often, I find that little mental break gives me a fresh view of the project in front of me.

    • http://twitter.com/samspurlin Sam Spurlin

      So true. I’ve been challenging myself to actually respond, with a well-formulated thought, when people ask, “How are you doing?” or, “What are you up to?” It’s amazing how in-grown the habit is to just respond with some kind of platitude.

  • Cynthia Morris

    Yes! I have vowed never to use the word ‘busy’ when asked how I am. Years ago it seemed that busy was the new rich – if you said you were busy, it showed how important and thus beleaguered you were.

    I love how succinctly and eloquently you said this. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/aliberlinski Ali Berlinski

    I hate when it becomes a competition as to who is busier. That’s a game where everyone’s a loser.

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