"How ya’ll doin'?" Translated from Texanish (my home state) to English, that would be; "How ya doing?"

These three simple words are powerful enough to build and maintain trust in your relationships. This simple phrase is the first of two steps to constructing strong, loyal relationships among those with whom you work, socialize, and live. The second step is to shut up and listen.

Recently, I was feeling deeply sad when a friend called. When I answered, she asked, "How ya’ll doin'?" I replied, 'Not very well.' I could tell this was a meaningless question. I could hear sounds in the background that told me she was at least partially distracted by whatever she was doing before she picked up the phone to call me.

She must have only heard the word "well" because she immediately launched into her reason for calling, without giving any notice to my answer.

As I hung up the phone, it occurred to me I hadn’t been feeling as close to her lately. I've known her for more than ten years and at one time we were very dear friends. We shared our triumphs and challenges. We lifted each other up in times of struggle and encouraged and counseled one another. But recently, her pattern of not being present, not listening during conversations, has driven a wedge between us. As a result, I do not trust her with my feelings.

On that day, I needed a friend. It is unusual for me to experience the kind of deep sadness I was experiencing that day.  Early that morning, I found that Pinot, my Shih Tzu of 12 years, had passed away in his sleep. I was devastated and heartbroken. I needed someone to care. Someone to understand. Someone to get my pain. Someone to help me recall sweet memories of him and ask me about my favorite moments and his silly antics. I needed her to care enough to say, "I'm so sorry to hear about your puppy." It would have melted my heart, brought us closer, and made me feel loved. It would have cemented my trust of her.

How often do we gloss over or ignore what a friend or co-worker is feeling? How often do we notice that someone's behavior is off but choose not to ask about it? The truth is, we do it all the time. We tell ourselves it's none of our business, we shouldn't get involved. But nothing could be further from the truth. When someone in our circle is not behaving like themselves, it's our responsibility, no, our duty to reach out to them and ask how they are. By asking you are not forcing them to share. You are merely showing them you care enough to shut up and listen if they do wish to talk. Giving someone your full attention is not just a courtesy or a "should do." It's a "must-do" if you want to build trust with your partner, children, friends, family, employees, or co-workers.

When you take a couple of minutes to check in with someone and then really listen to their response, you are letting them know they are important to you. You are letting them know they matter to you. Your thoughtful act of concern will lay the foundation of trust, and change their whole day.

So, tell me. How ya’ll doin’?

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