Authentic communication produces understanding

I knew a guy who would counter my daily greeting of, “Good morning!” With his trademark response, “What’s good about it?”

Since he was also my boss, I would scramble internally for a breezy, witty response that never actually materialized. Daily, I would commit to creating a list of snappy answers in preparation for the next day, but alas, the list never materialized either.

I’d like to defend my inability to produce something clever by noting that I am not a morning person per se’ and although physically present, my brain was usually still at home snoozing. I would surely have had a snappy retort if the greeting had started out, “Good afternoon.”

Still, I don’t particularly enjoy being caught off-guard, so, one day I met his inquiry with my own, “ Hey, have you ever received a good answer to that question?”

“Sure,” he replied, with no clue as to the internal angst I’d been suffering. I held my breath in anticipation of gleaning from the cleverness of others, as he nonchalantly delivered, “‘It’s a beautiful day’ or ‘I’m still breathing’ are good answers.”

All this time, I’d been struggling to impress with my wit or shock with a revelation about winning the lottery, yet he was simply asking what I thought was good.

Which makes me wonder … how often am I striving to strike just the right note in order to elicit admiration or laughter instead of responding to an authentic encounter in an authentic manner? And, what am I missing out on as a result?

The answer to the first question is, most of the time and the second is – plenty.

Preparing an answer is not the same as listening. Listening and processing before thoughtfully responding, creates communication.

Communication produces understanding and understanding builds relationships.

What’s so good about all that? Well, the flippant answer isn’t sincere and I can’t think of one anyway, so here’s what might be good about it.

By attempting to turn every interaction into a sitcom-worthy laugh track, I might miss the excitement a friend wants to convey, or an encouraging word meant just for me.

If I’m really listening, I can hear if someone is hurting or needs to air a concern.

Sometimes, too, I probably miss nuances of what isn’t being said when the intent of a conversation is drowned out by laughter.

Now, instead of determining to have the best answer, I’ve decided to become a better listener. And, that’s what is so good about today.