The Simple Power of “How are You?”

how are you

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Three words. “How are you?” Seems easy enough, right? How many times do we go through our days at work, where we ask colleagues how they’re doing and we are asked the same…and truly listened to their response and felt heard ourselves? How often have you been able to stop what you were working on to ask someone those three simple words? Have you been able to take time in a meeting and ask the same sentence? How have you truly been present for someone in the workplace and acknowledged where that person was at in the moment?

For the past few weeks, it has been challenging for some staff on campus. It goes without saying that we continue to live in a time of uncertainty and change–email doesn’t stop; projects grow; requests continue to rise. While the work continues, the question remains–how are we supporting one another as a Student Affairs community? How do we continue to build upon the relationships that we have one another?

Maybe it’s time to get back to basics. Within the simple “How are you?” is the meaningful connection of “I acknowledge and see you.”  In the article “Saying Hello…Acknowledging Each Other Authentically in Accelerated Times,” the author states, “Acknowledging each other is more than an interpersonal issue. Our work environments are defined by how people relate to each other. Saying hello [and] acknowledging people can have a powerful impact on the culture of an organization…”

Our Student Affairs core organizational values of communication, honesty/integrity, and respect that were selected by 500+ of our staff can help guide us toward the path of an authentic and supportive workplace for one another. A way to practice acknowledging one another and living our values is to start with those three easy words of “How are you?”

Here are 3 tips that you can do starting today:

  • Start out your staff meeting with a check-in; ask folks how they are doing and how they feel on a scale of 1-5. Acknowledge what feelings are in the room, and ask how the team can support each other. 
  • Take time out of your day to check-in with one of your colleagues. This can be in-person, over email, or picking up the phone. 
  • Send a handwritten card to a colleague for doing a great job. Need some “Thanks to You” cards? Contact L&D!

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