“How Are You?” Is So Much More Than a Question

by  Erin Schreyer  |  Self Leadership

My husband and I went out last night for a cherished date night.  It was a special one, in fact.  We were commemorating thirteen years of marriage at a local restaurant with great conversation, outdoor dining, Italian food and wine.

Our server quickly approached us after we were seated.  With enthusiasm and warmth, she asked us how we were doing this evening.  My husband and I both happily responded that we were great and so happy to be dining where we were.

Then I asked her in return, “How are you tonight?”

The server stopped in her tracks for a second.  She reached her hand over to touch my shoulder, and she sincerely said,

 Thank you so much for asking.  You know, most people don’t.

I have to admit, I was very surprised to hear this.  I even challenged her on it with a “REALLY?!?!”

She confirmed her truth.  “Honestly, most people don’t care how their server is,” she stated matter of factly.

I was so sad to hear this.  To me, a great server can make a dining experience…well, an experience.  They can make or break your evening, because they’re sharing your experience with you (whether you like it or not.)   So, why wouldn’t you want to engage with them?

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell suggests that all leaders regard the importance of what he calls “the Law of Connection.”

 For leaders to be effective, they need to connect with people.  Why?  Because you first have to touch people’s hearts before you ask them for a hand.

He goes on to say that the stronger a relationship is between the two, the more willing a follower will be to help the leader.  In essence, leaders must take the time to get to know people before they can expect them to give their best in return.  They must genuinely engage and sincerely ask, “how are you?”  Simply put, leaders need to show  they care.

Maxwell further encourages leaders with this:

 People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Leaders, invest the time in your people; not just in training, resources and pay, but also in creating and strengthening connecting with them.  Take the time to understand their cares, concerns and challenges.  Your job as a leader is to inspire and motivate your people, to remove their challenges and obstacles, to unite them and build teamwork.

Doesn’t it make sense that you would need to know them to be able to achieve these things?

How could you possibly motivate or inspire people if you don’t know what they care about?  How could you focus everyone if you don’t understand their concerns and challenges enough to remove them?  How could you build teams if you don’t know their strengths?

Leaders, you must connect.  You must engage.  You must show you care.

And, it can all start with a simple and sincere, “How are you?”

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By erin-schreyer
Full Bio Coming Soon

What People Are Saying

Deborah L. Parker  |  18 Oct 2012  |  Reply

Good insights Erin. So often we don’t recognize the value of intentional use of those three words. Then really listening, to hear the message in the response is where the power is.

Jon Mertz  |  18 Oct 2012  |  Reply


I would add when we ask “how are you?” we stop what we are doing to really listen to the answer. Asking without waiting and listening is hollow, too. It should be a moment to engage, learn, and connect. Simply powerful things to do!



Deborah Costello  |  18 Oct 2012  |  Reply

Well said, as always Erin. An ounce of kindness repays itself a thousand times over.

Karin Hurt  |  20 Oct 2012  |  Reply

Asking this vital question, and really caring about the answer can make such a difference in so many situations.

Glen Gaugh  |  29 Oct 2012  |  Reply

A great, everyday example of how connection can be created. Thanks so much for using this to add value to leaders!

Godwin  |  09 Nov 2014  |  Reply

Very inspirational.

Join The Conversation