If I were to come into your workplace and ask the general question of “How are you?”, what do you think I would hear? Whilst Janet from HR might have my ear for 10 minutes updating me on her best friends’ nephew’s cousin, the other 99% would most likely respond something along the lines of “I’m so busy.”

So why exactly is this our automatic response? Well, generally, it is because we ARE! But there is also that cultural expectation that if we are not “busy”, we are bored. Or even worse, slacking off.

So, instead of saying you’re “busy” or “stressed” (which will, in turn, make you feel busier and MORE stressed), try one of these instead:

When your boss asks, say:
“I’m having a productive day.”
This response will let your boss know you are not slacking off, but also has a positive spin to let them know you are still enjoying work. Depending on your workload, you can also add a comment about whether you have the capacity to take on any new projects.

When a colleague asks, say:
“I’m working on {insert project} and I’d really love your input!”
Sometimes, you get stumped. When a colleague asks how you’re going, don’t automatically go into ‘whinge’ mode – this not only makes you appear negative, it may also prevent them from offering assistance. Instead, let them know that you value their thoughts and ask if they have a few spare minutes to review your work.

When a client asks, say:
“We have a lot on, but always looking for new opportunities and new quality projects to work on.”
This not only shows your existing or prospective clients that you are a reputable company, but that you are always willing to engage new work. It also highlights that you hold their company in high regard.

When a friend asks, say:
“I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, but I’m so excited to see how it all pans out!”
By replying with this level of positivity and excitement, you will automatically inflict excitement onto your friends, who will be more then happy to come along for the ride, especially if they get to see you succeed.

When a loved one asks, say:
“I’m really stressed.”
I know, I know – this isn’t exactly a positive substitute. But sometimes, it is the truth and it is important to remember to speak up and seek help when you are stressed or struggling.

In this day and age, it is becoming harder and harder to find someone who is not “busy”, so by choosing one of the alternative responses above, people will not only take you more seriously but you will also appear calmer and more capable of life’s “busyness”.

By Kerri Eckart, CEO