“How are you doing?”
“Really crazy busy.”
“The usual – busy as ever.”
“Nothing much – Still busy!”
Sometime’s we even ask, “Keeping busy?” (Maybe a ridiculous question?)
A team was defining habitual negative talk that happens in their organization. The word ‘busy’ was highlighted. One of the team member’s said, “We get it, you’re busy. We’re all busy. Let’s talk about something else.” The negativity of ‘busy’ is the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that busy might trigger, often related to anxiety, stress, and lack/deficiency.
Now, there are certainly times where ‘busy’, and the associated anxiety and stress, are very real and need to be a warning sign. For instance:
- If we’re out of balance in our lives, particularly if work is outweighing other areas like family, friends, and health.
- If we’re spread so thin that we’re unable to do anything efficiently, productively, and effectively.
- If we’re busy with detractors, like things that are negative in any way and/or contrary to our values, beliefs, and goals.
If any of these three points apply or any other great examples that come to mind, we need to take an honest look at what constitutes our busyness, heed the warning, and reassess our schedules, which includes managing our time and priorities.
What we’re talking about here is that the use of the word busy – affirming busy – can make our busyness a negative overall experience, when it isn’t or doesn’t need to be, and we can influence a more positive experience.
In this case, what if we took ‘busy’ off the table as a possible answer in a work environment to any question? What if busy was generally a given. Like when someone says ‘Where are you?’, we don’t say ‘On earth!’, that’s generally a given. What would you say as an alternative for those questions when you would normally answer ‘busy’?
What if you are busy? What might be a more positive ‘go-to’ response that works for you?
What if you hear the answer ‘busy’? What might be a positive follow-up response that works for you?
We seem to be able find a moment (or two…) to talk about how busy we are. What else could we talk about during that moment (or two…).
Those moments just may help with the ‘busy’, and at very least, support a greater human connection.
Simple? Maybe! There’s still effort required. Try it. I dare you. Don’t use ‘busy’ as an answer. Start with one day, and then another, and another….