For Better Conversations, Replace ‘How Are You?’ With This One Phrase


We’ve all dealt with bad listeners. You know the signs: They nod their head, but fail to look you in the eye. They talk over you. They ask you the same question twice, or worse, they don’t ask you any questions at all.

If you’ve never had this experience, you might be the bad listener. And that’s bad for business.

To build trust with other people, you have to let them know you’re interested in what they have to say. One way to do that is to ask the right questions, says Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette coach and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach.

Whitmore recommends going beyond the simple “How are you?” to ask open-ended questions that warrant more than a one-word response.

The phrase she likes most: “Tell me.” (Some examples: “Tell me about your weekend” or “Tell me, how did the two of you meet?”)

It’s a simple enough change, but it lets people know you’re tuned in – and it can lead to a more exciting chat overall. “Anytime you start a sentence with ‘tell me,’ it launches into scintillating conversation,” she says.

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