For example, when someone asks, “How are you?” the worst response you can possibly give if you’re trying to start a conversation, is “Good” or “Fine.” It tells the other nothing. In fact, it could be interpreted as a rebuff, a euphemism for “I don’t want to talk,” even though in reality, you (anxious networker that you are) may simply not know what to say to keep the dialogue going.
Here’s a better way to answer the tried and true, “How are you?”
You could say, “Ugh” or “Amazing” or “Better” or even “Good, actually” – all of these responses sidestep the ritual pleasantries, the automatic and robotic response. Instead, in their elegant one-word-ness, they creatively allude to recent events, thereby offering an invitation to the listener to inquire further.
Author, Brian Christian, calls this a “hold,” like those jewel-toned rubber blobs you see on a fake rock climbing wall. “Each is both an aid to the climber and an invitation onto a certain path or route along the ascent,” he writes. “You give the other people an easy first hold – a simple and obvious way to initiate a conversation with you, if they want.”
Try it and let me know how it works. In fact, come to the Creative Freelancer Conference later this month (June 21-22 in Boston) to try it — there will be plenty of networking opportunities!