Are You Fine or Fantastic?

By: Martin Avis

It takes a small child to make us see sense sometimes.
My 7-year old daughter loves school and on the days
that I collect her, I always greet her with,

"Hi Charlotte, how are you?"

And nine times out of ten she answers,

"Hi Daddy, I'm brilliant!"

It is impossible not to smile at such an open
exhibition of enthusiasm. Her positivity is infectious.

Yet, like most adults, it took a while to dawn on me
that I could learn something from my own child.

I was thinking about her when I met a business
colleague the other day.

"Hello, Martin," he said as we automatically shook
hands, "how are you?"

It was on the tip of my tongue to say "I'm fine", or,
"not too bad" as I would normally respond.

But instead,
Charlotte's smiling face popped into my mind and I came
back with,

"I'm brilliant, thank you. How are you?"

A flicker of confusion crossed his face as my
unexpected response sank in. Then a big smile spread
across this rather dour businessman's face and he said,

"You know, I'm feeling pretty brilliant too!"

We had a great meeting.

Charlotte's natural enthusiasm taught me a big lesson:
that we go through life saying and hearing conditioned
responses that really mean absolutely nothing. It is
only when we break out of the expected that real
communication occurs.

What do 'fine', 'okay', 'not too bad', 'all right',
'pretty good' and all the other non-responses really
mean? Absolutely nothing. They mean nothing because the
question that they answer usually means less than

'How are you', 'how're you doing', 'how's the family'
are meaningless punctuation. Most often the person
asking is not even looking at you - and rarely are they
listening to your equally meaningless answer.

Yet, by hijacking that automatic question and giving a
completely unexpected - and exciting answer - we can
take control of a conversation. And more, force the
other person to think positively of us.

I could have said 'marvellous' or 'first-class' or
'absolutely splendid' or any number of positive,
energizing statements. But I liked Charlotte's choice.

It is certainly true that you never get a second chance
to make a first impression. Let your first impression
in any meetingFeature Articles, be brilliant!


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