A Greeting to Strengthen Your Optimism and the Optimism of Those Around You

“What’s been the best thing in your day?”

A Greeting to Strengthen Your Optimism and the Optimism of Those Around You
By Victor Perton, Author of “Optimism: The How and Why

Stop asking, “How are You?” and try “What’s been the best thing in your day?”

How do you raise the optimism around you? Your optimism and those you spend time with?

One way?

Ask better questions, especially when greeting someone.

In many countries and cultures, people routinely ask a question in greeting, “How are you?”

In Australia, as in Ireland, Austria, and several other countries, the answer most of the time when meeting someone is the double negative “not too bad” or “not bad.”

Usually, the answer is ignored. Instead, the conversation moves on, or the people walk past each other without exchanging another question.

I was at the dentist’s the other day, and the dental nurse asked, “How are You?” She turned and walked towards the treatment room before I could answer.

It’s a wasted question and a wasted answer.

Think about what you ask people when you greet them.

Think about the answer you use.

I have found that asking a question like “What’s been the best thing in your day?” is likely to elicit an answer with a story of optimism and hope.

The first time you ask the question, they may stare at you. You may need to repeat the question.

80% of people share something positive. What a way to improve your day and their day, too!

50% of people will spontaneously share something bright.

30% of people will need a prompt - say, “Did you see the sunrise?” “A good coffee?”

Some people will be having a bad day. They may say something like “XXXX nothing.”

If they do, it’s general permission to ask, “What’s wrong?” and show empathy and care and make a difference in their lives.

We have tried this out in workplaces, prisons and schools. There have been lots of reports of success.

A radio announcer told me and his audience he uses it constantly.

A business executive visiting his most challenging client said it worked for him. He told me the client’s CFO looked up with a grin and said, “that’s a great question.”

Can you adapt to your language? For example, on a Friday, you might ask, “What’s been the best thing in your week?”

On a Monday, it could be “G’day. What was the best thing about your weekend?”

Experiment: Next time you can interact with someone with a greeting, why don’t you try replacing “How are you” with “What’s the best thing happening for you?” or whatever similar question feels natural?

If that works well, try it for two days. It may become a lifelong habit.

This aligns with the first habit of an optimist: Smile like an optimist and show a genuine smile to everyone.



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