I once took a management seminar in which the facilitator was discussing how to deal with the ubiquitous “How are you?” in the work place.  We all know that the person asking has simply expanded, “Hello”, and they don’t really want to know how you’re doing unless the answer is, “Great! That project proposal you need is all set.” or “Great! I just scored tickets to the Superbowl!”  They don’t want to know anything else — they’re busy with their own angst-ridden day.  The only folks who may really want to hear your true answer when they ask are your girlfriends, buddies or loving family members  …  So how do you answer your coworker when your day isn’t great and still practice Right Speech … In other words, not be a liar?

The answer the seminar facilitator gave was surprising and, at first, seemed a little rah-rah-superficial-corporate.  He quoted someone he’d met and worked with years before whose difficult-day response was, “Growing and learning!”  The facilitator thought this was brilliant because it kept things professional and positive — two very important and sought-after attributes in the working world.  My initial response wasn’t positive.  BUT, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  What are we doing when we encounter the difficult stuff? We’re growing and learning — IF we stay present.  If we do this, we have the opportunity to find the bigger perspective, the detachment if you will, that will allow us to step back from the emotional abyss and find the learning experience that lies within — whether we’re experiencing difficulty around a small or overwhelmingly large thing.

And so today, I find myself at work — which for once is actually moving smoothly — and struggling mightily with emotional sensations that have nothing to do with work. My personal life imploded last week. The man I love and myself came smack up against an opposing view and our own personal expectations around it.  Although we discussed said topic with compassion, love and even support, we got stuck … Thus, implosion.  Emotionally, life is very challening right now, which makes focusing on work harder than usual.  And in reality, it’s not when my brain is focused on a work task that I struggle — it’s the in between moments that get me.  The transitions are when I have to breathe deep, ground down to my feet and the Earth and remember there’s nothing I can do right now to change my situation.  The conversation I want to continue, the words I want to say and hear, the words I don’t want to say and hear must all wait for their appropriate time.  All I can do is continue to breathe, continue to ground and be as present to my reality at this moment (primarily that large and ever-present To Do list), and when someone, once again, passes me in the hall and asks, “How ya doing?”, summon some sort of smile and answer, “Growing and learning!”


How do you answer this question?  I’d love to hear how others manage positive & professional when dealing with emotional sensation!

4 Responses to “Growin’ and learnin’”

  • Megan says:

    First of all: I am so sorry to hear of the implosion. I am hoping after the dust settles and you both have some distance, the conversation can begin again. My own hubby and mine recently discovered we had completely opposing views to something we both consider A Big Deal. It was shocking and hard to take in (more for him than me), but eventually we had to realize that we couldn’t change the other, and deep down wouldn’t want to anyway.

    Secondly: How do I answer that persnickity question? Usually, I fall back on a solid non-answer. For example…

    co-worker: How are you doing?
    me: Oh, the usual!

  • Hiking_Yogini says:

    Megan, thanks. I am hoping that we can begin the conversation again … Just waiting for that dust to settle. Once it does, my largest fear is opening my eyes to see what’s still standing. And you’re very, very right — we can’t change each other. We can only change ourselves. And darn it, isn’t that harder?

    The solid non-answer. Good one. 🙂

  • Ceciley says:

    These are really good Deb! Thanks for sharing

  • Hiking_Yogini says:

    Thanks, Ceciley! Hope you keep enjoying the blog. 🙂

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