All things being equal, doing the occasional check-in with friends is better than not doing it at all.

That said, there’s nothing terribly inspiring about a text that reads “how’s it going?”

(Now there’s a real conversation starter! 🙄)

At first brush, it may seem like a nice, cordial way to begin a conversation. If you’re greeting a friend at the movie theater, it’s completely appropriate and even expected. But in a text, it’s a limp opening.

Don’t get me wrong – if there’s a quick follow-up text that clarifies the intent of the communication, “how’s it going” is fine. But don’t be surprised if I don’t immediately bust out of my best Sherlock Holmes costume to uncover the grand mystery as to why you’re reaching out to me.

I doubt it’s just me, but there are several thoughts flashing through my mind whenever I get this text (usually from the same two people):

  • Okay, so what do they want from me? Why aren’t they getting to the point?
  • If they understand that I’m up to something in my life (I refuse to use the word “busy,” because I’m the one creating my life), then why does it seem like they’re so eager to waste everyone’s time? Why aren’t they getting to the point?
  • What are they getting out of this conversation? What am I getting out of this conversation? How is anyone benefiting from this conversation? Why aren’t they getting to the point?
  • Have they learned anything about creating win-win propositions from the last time I’ve talked to them? Or can I expect them to be completely self-interested like the last time I’ve talked to them? Why aren’t they getting to the point?

I know, it sounds kind of mean, but these thoughts occur rapidly, spontaneously, and concurrently. With all the ways people have pitched me through the years, I can’t help it. In the construct of time, there are only positive and negative forces. There are no neutral ones! I have done a relatively thorough job of discouraging casual communication unless it’s from a familiar and welcome source.

Again, I think it’s better to do the occasional check-in than not. But it helps to enter a conversation with an intention. Stop and think about what the intention is. It can help move the conversation in a productive direction. If there is no intention behind it, you’re either socializing or wasting time.

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