Making Meaning Out of What’s New

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

berries in tea cup

“What’s new?”

It’s a phrase we hear often from colleagues at various moments during the day: as we pass in a hall, while awaiting coffee to brew, at the start of a meeting. More often than not, our response is something short and empty, “Oh, not much.” And indeed, it’s just small talk, just a friendly greeting. No one asking actually expects – or even wants – a detailed account of what is new in your world.

And that’s a missed opportunity. It’s a missed opportunity for a meaningful conversation – however brief – between colleagues that could go a long way toward building trust, compassion, a relationship. And we know that strong relationships account for a lot of our success at work.

In the coaching world, the phrase is augmented just slightly, but meaningfully, to “What’s new and good?” Adding the simple “and good” not only awakens a tired phrase, but also spins it to elicit a more upbeat response. And I think it’s safe to say we’d all rather hear good news, rather than bad news, or no news at all.

But more than that, hearing the phrase “What’s new and good?” also shifts our own thinking in a more positive direction, compelling us to share not just what’s new, but also what’s going well in our lives and at work. Hearing “What’s new and good?” instantly shifts our thoughts from complaints to compliments, from scarcity to abundance, from apathy to awareness.

Ultimately, “What’s new and good?” invites an exchange that benefits both the person asking and the person answering. Of the person asking, it relays engagement and compassion for others. For the person answering, it’s an easy mental boost. For both, it’s an opportunity to acknowledge, celebrate and perhaps even build on a success, as well as strengthen a relationship.

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