“Hi! It’s so good to see you! How have you been?”
“Oh, my gosh! Things are crazy! I’ve been so busy!”
Almost ubiquitous in its brevity and content, this conversation has us potentially blinded to its effect on relationships. Yes, busy is an adjective so it can describe you. And yes, it may be true that you have been busy. Huzzah. Who isn’t?
What we may not fully realize is that this response shuts down any meaningful conversation because it doesn’t reveal any real information.
Maybe that’s what we like about it.
Here’s my theory on why we keep telling everyone we’re so busy:
It makes me feel important. If I tell you I’m busy, then you’ll assume that I’ve been producing. If I’ve been producing, I can justify sucking air on this planet because value is determined by what I do, not who I am.
It prevents me from really thinking about how my life is progressing. I may be spinning my wheels on activities that are completely irrelevant or counterproductive to my goals in life or in business, but I am moving! And that’s good, right?
It shuts the door on future engagement. This may be an unintended consequence to the response, but it’s the effect nonetheless. If I lead by telling you how busy I am, you, of course, will know that I am definitely NOT the person to help you with the next project. Sadly, you will also assume that I am definitely NOT the person to have a cup of coffee or go on a dream vacation with you. By saying how busy I am, I am rejecting your professional and relational advances before you can make them.
Responding with “I’m busy” is an effective way to project a false sense of significance and to isolate myself by preemptively keeping others at a distance. Is that what we mean to do? My challenge to you is to think of another way to answer that question this week. Language is a multi-layered and wondrous thing! Expand your vocabulary and really engage instead of resorting to what you always say. I can’t wait to hear what happens in your conversations!