‘Yeah, I’m good …busy…. but good’
‘Just grateful to be busy’
‘Good to be busy’..
‘I’m just unbelievably busy…’
…. Any of these phrases familiar?
The ‘B word’ is a word that we often use, and yet, we seldom give any real thought to what this word really stands for.
The question I’m asking is ‘do we offer any real understanding for others as to what we mean when we say ‘busy’?
I thought I’d dig into this word and offer you some different choices based on an equation I’ve created.
My experience of using the word is that, in the moment of saying it, I think of all the things that I am currently juggling: our almost five-year-old daughter, my 16 year old stepson, our American cockerpoo, ‘Teddy’, my partner’s commitments, my coaching work, my work as an actress, my colleagues, my parents, my siblings (6 of them!), my ever increasing abundance of nephews and nieces, friends…the list goes on…!
I would suggest that, (particularly during this unprecedented Covid time), this list is not all that dissimilar for most of us.
When we say ‘busy’, it is code for so much.
It has always astounded me that we use this word with such liberal frivolity.
Also, that we use it in equal measure both for ourselves, and others.
In both my working and personal life, I have noticed how often individuals will use the word ‘busy’ in a whole spectrum of scenarios.
A few examples:
‘Yes, we’ve been meaning to get in touch, but we’ve both been so busy’
‘They haven’t got back to me yet…but I know how busy they are’
‘I didn’t want to bother them…they’re so busy’
‘I guess they’re just busy’
‘I’m so sorry, I’ll definitely call you tomorrow… I’ve just been so busy’
Part of the reason for sharing this with you, (as with all my blogs), is to hear your thoughts on this topic.
To understand more about your experience of the language that we use to communicate with our audiences…and in this context…. the specific ‘B word’.
What is the impact of this four lettered word?
In place of the word ‘busy’, can we be more specific for people, as well as for ourselves?
I believe we can.
The three ways that we can build empathy in our audience when it comes to understanding more about ‘busy’ make up the ‘Empathy Equation’:
Specifics + Time + Intention = Audience Empathy
- Get specific about what is taking your time. Particularly when you are letting people know that you cannot do the thing they are asking, or if you are explaining why you need more time with a deadline/project/task. Being specific helps our audience understand why. It helps build the pictures in their head of what it is that we are doing.
- Let them know the time you have spent so far, the time you need until you can meet their expectations -this can be something as simple as returning a call, replying to an email, or completing a task. This amplifies the feeling of acknowledgement in our audience, and they are more likely to trust that we will do what we say we’ll do. It already sounds very different to ‘I’ve been so busy’…
- The final part of this equation is even more important. Letting our audience know our intention is the single most important thing we can do. We are hard wired to give meaning to silence. We will make all kinds of assumptions (usually unhelpful ones)_when we do not receive the response we are seeking. It is our responsibility to let our audience know our intention so that we can mitigate any unhelpful assumption.
My intention with this blog is to get you thinking about our use of this word ‘busy’.
To see if the ‘building empathy’ approach has any impact on the interaction with our audience when needing to communicate our version of ‘busy’.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
As always, let me know your thoughts below…when you’re not too busy …