Conversations at the Crossroads.

Losing the Busy Badge

When someone asks you how you’re doing, how do you typically respond?

Would your answer likely include something about being “busy”?

How have you been?


(Things are busy.)

(I’ve been so busy!)

Lately I’ve been noticing how readily we all respond in this manner. And I have been thinking about how little the word “busy” actually conveys, how weakly it connects us with the person who has asked the question.

In a way, “busy” is the new “fine” – a default, thoughtless reply.

(I’m fine.)

(Things are fine.)

As with “fine,” when we say we are “busy,” no information is shared. It offers little upon which to build further conversation. It is really the least possible effort we could put into an answer, short of not answering at all.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons why one might be inclined to answer this way. Perhaps you are in a hurry and don’t have time to get into it. Maybe it is meant as a disclaimer, an explanation for things you haven’t done, for correspondence you haven’t kept up. More often than not, you’ll say it because it feels like the truth – you ARE busy.

But I wonder:

Who do you know that ISN’T busy?

How should we measure busy?

And when my busy meets your busy, whose busy will win?

Silly as it sounds, have you noticed that some conversations move in this direction – a game of one-upmanship comparing the activities that are keeping each of us busy?

Busy has become a badge that we are all wearing, all the time. It’s like we’re all at a party with the same nametag that reads: “Hi. I’m BUSY.” It’s the opposite of an icebreaker. And it is more likely to limit conversations rather than open them up, which means countless lost opportunities to share and connect.

Among various synonyms, the thesaurus offers “full” as a substitute for “busy.” I have been trying it out in conversations, to see what happens when I don’t give a stock answer. I have also been experimenting with entirely new angles when it comes to the question of how I’m doing.

(It’s an interesting time.)

(Let me tell you about an exciting thing that happened recently.)

It’s amazing how people will lean in when they hear something unexpected. Losing our busy badges can only do us good.

How willing are you to lose yours? If you are game to try it I would love to hear what happens.

With support and encouragement for your journey,

Founder, The Crossroads Coach

Published July 14, 2016