10 Powerful Things I Learned About the Word Busy.

I do tend to get on a hobby-horse about things. 2017 was my year of the #banbusy movement. I don’t think I actually started it, but by crikey, I’ve been promoting the you-know-what out of it.

Why have I had my undies in an uproar about the word busy? Well you can head over to my previous article to get the back story.  Suffice to say, I was exasperated about how many people answered “busy” when I asked how they were. It really irritated me, so when I get irritated, I write.


Here’s 10 things I learned about busy

However, after I did some ranty writing, I stopped to have a think. Then I asked a group of women that I trust to give me the no BS answers I needed. I went to Women Who Get It, my fabulously feisty ecosystem of flawesome females.

When I did this impromptu survey in the WWGI Facebook group about what busy meant to these women, I was really surprised at the answers. As a result, I gained some insights that I hadn’t considered through my one-dimensional view of the word busy. Then I realised that there is a great opportunity to change the game. Busy might be irritating to hear for me, or maybe its even a bizarre kind of status symbol for others, but for many women and men, it’s just quite possibly a shield. Here’s the summary of my aha! moment, courtesy of my awesome #WWGI:

  1. Busy is a deflection (go away I don’t wish to talk)
  2. Busy is a defence mechanism (don’t challenge me about the value of the work I do)
  3. Busy means I am bored out of my brain (no further explanation needed)
  4. Busy means that I work on meaningless crap (hmmmmmm)
  5. Busy is a cry for help (I am seriously underwhelmed at being so overwhelmed, all the time!)
  6. Busy is a status symbol (what I thought busy meant….but deep down signals insecurity)
  7. Busy means I am disengaged (I don’t care that you might care about me anymore)
  8. Busy means I want you to go away
  9. Busy means I am not slacking off even if you think I am (proving to you that my workload is real, as is my contribution)

OK, So what now?

I think its time that leaders dialled up the authenticity and compassion don’t you? By that, I mean connect more deeply with the human you have asked ‘How are you?’ by having a caring, compassionate and accountable second question ready. Demonstrate that you care, have compassion and respect the person you are enquiring after.  Daniel Goleman says that leaders are so busy, in a hurry, intent on task, self-absorbed, that we forget to notice others and demonstrate compassion.


How to not be a self-absorbed leader. A Step By Step Guide.

Your 1st Question Their “Busy” Answer Your 2nd “not being a dick” Question
How are you? ‘Phwoar, busy! Really? So, what’s creating all that busyness? Can I help?
How are you? I feel like I haven’t seen you for ages? ‘Sorry, so busy, been in back to back meetings all day/week/month/year’ Wow. Sounds like you need a hand. What can we do?
How are you? ‘Flat out busy, schedule is crazy’ Come and have a coffee, let’s talk about what’s going on for you.

Fairy Floss

If you can’t commit to deliberate, purposeful, inclusive and compassionate leadership behaviours (which are simple!) then please don’t ask “how are you” in the first place. Find another riveting, innovative question to pass the time of day. (OK, I don’t mean that. Please ask.)

I am convinced that  ‘How are you’ is the fairy floss of conversation. Saccharine sweet, disappears in an instant and has the nutritional value of a gnat. (I have no idea what the nutrional value of a gnat is)

OK, so there you have it. What else? Check out these clever folk who also like to do ranty write ups about compassionate and inclusive leadership.


Secrets of People With All the Time in the World
Leaders Aren’t Great at Judging How Inclusive They Are
Are You Busy Being Busy?


Why Aren’t Leaders More Compassionate?
How To Gain Control of Your Free Time
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