While sitting at shows, I started to pay attention to the conversations between vendors and shoppers. They pretty much all went like this:
Person 1: “Hello. How are you?”
Person 2: “Good thank you. You?”
Person 1: “Great.”
And then I would hear this same conversation (sometimes verbatim, sometimes with a slight variation) again when the shopper approached another booth. And again, and again, and again. And I started to realize that we all ask and answer those questions automatically, without even thinking if we ARE actually fine. And I remembered a blog post I read a long time ago by this most fabulous writer.
So now when someone comes to my booth, I say “hello” and then let them take the lead as to what to ask next. It is still always “How are you?” and so I answer them. But then, I throw them for a tailspin and ask them “What has been the best part of your day so far?” and BOY does that throw many of them for a loop! Some people get defensive that they just arrived at the show and haven’t even seen anything yet (so then I gently re-direct them to my question that I want to know what the best thing has been so far, of their WHOLE day, not just the show).
Sometimes the answer makes me sad for them. People will actually say “Nothing”. NOTHING? Their day has been so terribly awful that NOTHING qualifies as being a highlight? Oh dear…
But more often, I get the most glorious responses! A number of people do a double take, look right at me, give a little laugh, and say “Oh! That is a good question!”. And then we get in to talking about why their day is going so darned awesome. I really like asking this question to kids. My favourite kid response to “What has been the best part of your day so far?” was “EVERYTHING!” – that one made me smile for hours!
Today, I had some great responses. An older gentlemen stopped by my booth and after he asked me how I was doing, I side-swiped him with my question. He looked at me and smiled and said “Oh, there have been some really high points.” So I prodded him a bit more and he responded “Waking up this morning next to my beloved. Just lying there and listening to her breathe as she slept. It is wonderful.” We proceeded to chat about how he was tired today from a big day yesterday as he went the AGO to see the David Bowie exhibit.
Another woman thought about my question and answered “I bought some copper today!”. I asked her what she was going to do with it (I figured she was a jewellery-maker or something) and she came over excitedly to tell me how she was going to ground herself with it and she proceeded to tell me a bit about this – and this reminds that I am supposed to google to understand what she is talking about!
There were other beautiful responses. Responses that showed how much people love and care for their family and friends (1 woman’s highlight was picking up her friend who was visiting for the weekend from Mississauga, and another woman’s highlight was having tea with her sister and elderly mother).
I look forward to shows so that I can ask this question of the strangers I meet. It helps get past the meaningLESS small talk in to slightly more meaningFULL small talk. I am thinking that applying this same questioning practice to my daily life (especially with good friends and family) would be a brilliant idea!
So I ask YOU, what has been the best part of your day, so far?