Avery Blank Senior Contributor
I help people advocate for themselves and leverage opportunities.
It is annoying when people say “I’m so busy” in response to a colleague asking how things are going. Everyone is busy. People are not going to feel sorry for you. It makes it look like you want to sound important or are too lazy to articulate a response. You might even come across as a complainer or someone who is unable to manage your professional life. Don’t risk being misunderstood.
When a coworker asks how’s it going, take the opportunity to share something of value. Don’t try to make it look like you are important. Show your importance. When someone asks how it is going, consider these two responses:
1. “I am working on…”
Share a specific project or goal you are working on. You might start with saying the following: “I’m working on a gap analysis of the cybersecurity laws.”
Sharing specifics is more impactful. Details allow others to wrap their head around what you are doing. Generalizations can make it difficult for others to visualize your accomplishments.
2. “I’d like your perspective on…”
When a coworker asks how things are, take advantage of the situation to gather information that might help you with your work. Feedback can be hard to take, but two minds are generally better than one. Ask about their thoughts on a project you are working on.
Getting people’s perspective on a particular project is a good way to share what you are doing, as well as a great way to improve upon what you are doing. If someone asks how things are going and you respond saying you are busy, you will not get any value from the other person. Responding with “I’m busy” ends the discussion. Not only might you annoy the other person (they are probably busy, too), but you also don’t get anything out of them. The “I’m busy” or “I’m swamped” response is unhelpful.
The next time a colleague asks how things are going, try to avoid the generic and annoying response of “I’m so busy” or “I’m swamped.” Everyone is busy. Instead, use the response as an opportunity to showcase your worth.
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