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Three Small Words for a Big Impact in Transforming Your Social Interaction


Here I sit, suspended between Christmas and the New Year, in this reflective week I always love. Like many, you may find yourself looking backward to inform how you want to move forward with New Year's resolutions. The holiday season, bridging the end of one year and the beginning of another, is a reflective time that often inspires us to connect more deeply with those around us. I didn’t have to reach too far back to find fuel for my first resolution of the new year. I’ve been recalling my recent holiday interactions with family and friends in particular.


The Impact of Asking "How Are You"


In some cases, I’ve spent long stretches of time with some of them and the feeling of true connection was missing. In other cases, a quick breakfast or phone call yielded that warm glow that Hallmark reminds us we should feel at this time of year. 


What made the difference between the two situations? It often boiled down to one thing—which exchanges made me feel seen and cared about. In a world where life can be far too complicated, I look for simplicity. So the simple fact is I felt more connected and cared for when others asked “how are you?” and truly cared to know.


In which exchanges did we really wonder with sincere interest about the other?  And who asked simply as an entire for telling me all about how THEY are…or asked but didn’t really listen to my reply–both the words and the emotions.  And where was I guilty of the same?


Key Insights for Fostering Genuine Interactions


Implementing effective communication strategies can transform your interactions into more meaningful connections. Here are some tips to help you enhance your conversations during the holidays and all year round.

  • Be Sincere: Ask "how are you?" with genuine interest. Showing genuine interest in how others are feeling can dramatically enhance interpersonal connections.

  • Active Listening: Pay attention to both words and emotions. Listening attentively to responses shows that you value the other person beyond mere courtesy.

  • Show Empathy: Respond with understanding and care. This approach can significantly enhance your relationships, much like embracing new opportunities can lead to transformational change.


Using Emotional Intelligence in Leadership


This phenomenon isn’t limited to the holidays or our personal lives. These strategies are not only beneficial in personal interactions but are equally important in professional growth. All year long, I work with leaders who want to know how to make a difference, how to connect with staff, keep their fingers on the pulse of the organization, boost morale, gain respect, reduce turnover, and communicate value. 


It seems to me all of that could be helped along by one question in the new year—“how are you?” –delivered sincerely and followed up by deep listening–the kind of listening that would have you pass the hypothetical pop quiz about their answer.


Effective Leadership Tips for Deeper Connections


Here’s how leaders can use simple words to make a big impact:

  • Consistent Engagement: Regular, sincere inquiries about well-being can significantly impact team dynamics.

  • Empathetic Leadership: Showing empathy and understanding in your responses fosters trust and respect.

  • Follow-through on Details: Remembering and acting upon what you learn about others shows that you value them genuinely.


Power of Simple 3 Words!


So as you utter the three words that usher in the Times Square ball drop—“happy new year!”—consider following them up with three other words—“how are you?”—and then just listen. Their answers may shift from “fine” to something more telling.

With this resolution enacted, we’ll be on our way to being more impactful leaders, friends, and family members. 


Have you experienced a change in your relationships by using these small words with big impact? For more insights on fostering genuine connections, check out our communication strategies and leadership tips.

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