The way I see it: How are you today?

“If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people.” — Timothy Leary

This started me thinking… When someone asks, “How are you today?”  Why do I just say: “Yeah, good thanks!” brushed off with a bit of grumpy rhetoric. Or simply go through the motions?

Sadly, for most of us, it’s the latter. Even sadder, is that when we’re asked how we are, we’re far from honest and don’t tend to treat the person with respect.

Truth is, most of us are far from good. I started to wonder?

What would happen if we changed the way we responded to people? I decided to give it a go! To be honest, it was hard going! I’m pretty much an “I’ll keep it to myself!” type of guy.

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If I’m not feeling on top of things and someone bounces up to me and asks, “How’s it going?” I’ll smile and say “Great”.

There might be a hundred and one reasons why I respond in this way. The simple plain fact is, I just can’t be bothered engaging with this bright-eyed, bubbly over-the-top individual, who for all I know, may just have won the lottery.

After some careful self-analysis and evaluation (I’ve already been told I’m a grumpy old fart), I decided to change the way I reacted to people that asked, “How are you today?”

Before I even ventured out, I get a phone call from a telemarketer.

“Hi it’s Mark here how are you this morning?”

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My golden opportunity to put my new found positiveness into action.

“Oh hi Mark, thanks for calling and asking how I am… Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not feeling all that great this morning, was awake all night worrying about my guinea pigs!” 

Silence! Then a compassionate: “Are they okay?”

“No they’re not really,” I reply. “Stud-muffin and Snicker-doodle got out during the night and I think they were bullied by Jack Hammer and Goliath.”

He gasped, “Ooh!”

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Then I opened the floodgates and poured out a few soft sobs.

“I’m very upset, I hope the poor wee darlings are going to be all right?”

At this point, Mark was displaying all the right emotions with his empathy.

He had pretty much forgotten the reason for his call and was assuaging me about my imaginary guinea pigs and their plight.

“Look,” he said. “I don’t know too much about guinea pigs, but I’m sure it’s just a territorial thing and you sound like a lovely gentleman who cares very much about your animals, so I’m sure everything will be fine.”

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“Thank you so much,” I said, trying to sound sincere.

He chimed in with, “I’m glad I was here to listen, go and make a nice cuppa and just relax! Is there someone you can call?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Fantastic!” He said, and I heard the relief in his voice as he said with sincerity. “Please call them, but please don’t worry because everything’s going to be just fine!”

After Mark hung up, I stopped and processed what had just happened. By simply changing the way I responded, Mark forgot about his job and became a caring benevolent person, concerned about my guinea pigs and more so, my well being. My response could have been very different… and curt!

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Time to venture into the city. Next person was the train guard. 

“How are ya mate, where ya going?”

“To the city buddy, and how are you this beautiful morning?” That clinched it!

“Nothing beautiful about it mate!”

He didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be with his wife, who had recently been told that she had breast cancer.

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He was sad that he couldn’t be with her, but he knew that by being at work, he was contributing to the cost of her treatment… She was just 42.

I immediately offered him my best wishes for a successful outcome. He thanked me and went about is duties with just a hint of a smile.

I felt good! All of a sudden it was dawning on me, I had to be the one to make the change. I had to shift my focus from a negative one to a positive one and I was learning, by taking a chance on a stranger.

All of a sudden, I began to feel good, really good.

It made me smile inside and I began to get it!

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You see, everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into our lives just by mere coincidence, so trust your instincts, do the unexpected, find the others.

Remember, “If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people.”

Do you agree with Brian? Has there been a time when you’ve had to change your approach for a different outcome? Share your stories with us.

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