When I worked at that gas station, I had a regular customer who always cracked me up. He was an elderly man with a thick British accent. When he came in each week, I would ask him how he was. He would stare up into my eyes from his seat and give me a sly smile.
"Do you have an hour? I am going to need about an hour or more to tell you how I am. It's a complicated question with a complex answer. I would love to tell you how I am. Will your boss mind if you slip away for sixty minutes to listen to me tell you how I am?"
I would smile and awkwardly reply that I didn't think that would be possible. He would nod and explain that I should refrain from asking him how he is doing, if I don't really want to know the answer. I always laughed and appreciated his candor.
The Business Rhetorical Question
The biggest business lie is the one you answer when someone asks you how your business is. I have heard this question hundreds of times at networking events and conferences. The answer we always hear is that business is great, we are very busy. It's a lie.
The truth is that most people wouldn't attend networking events or conferences if business were booming. They attend to meet new people and hopefully land new business, and that's perfectly fine. That's part of what networking is all about.
I love Chris Brogan's take on the "busy" answer. He's not busy, he's blessed.
Maybe the next time someone asks you how your business is, you should be honest. Tell them you are seeking a new client right now. They may be able to provide you with an introduction, or perhaps they can hire you. Just don't take sixty minutes to answer their question.