In working with a client on a culture change initiative, we were discussing how employees can best form relationships and support each other. Some members of our culture team talked about how employees often ask each other “How are you?” – which is positive, but it’s usually done out of habit, and the expected and typical response is simply “fine.” There’s no depth in the question and response, no real desire to have a greater understanding of the other person and enter into dialogue.
So what is the question to ask? Is it “Can you tell me your feelings today?” Is it “T’sup?” How about “What can I do for you?”
Try this: “What do you need?”
Asking a co-worker this question means that you want to help them. From a business perspective, you’re focusing the question on needs, not wants. It’s a better question than “What can I do for you?”, because the co-worker may not know what YOU CAN DO, but they do know what THEY NEED.
The need could be a simpler method of accomplishing a task. It could include stress relief or rest. The need could be a good performance evaluation. The need could be someone to talk to about their frustrations.
Asking about the need opens the door to a relationship with others and to helping others.
If you want a deeper relationship with co-workers and you want to help them as well, ask them this question.
What do you need?