What people actually mean when they ask about your weekend

May 25, 2020

Monday morning rolls around, and the team staggers in one-by-one. There is a friendly greeting, followed by the familiar question:

“How was your weekend?”

It seems silly, but this once induced panic in me. It didn’t matter if the weekend was spent doing the usual boring laundry and grocery shopping or if I had done something interesting and unusual, as soon as I was asked this question, my mind would go blank, and I would stutter something about “Good, but too quick like always” and the conversation would end, to be resumed when the next person arrived in the office.

My first solution to this awkward interaction that often lead to a moment lost for me to share something interesting from my life was to brainstorm a few responses before I walked in. I might glance back at my calendar or camera roll to remember that I did go to the Farmer’s Market and took a yoga class at a new studio, and — oh yeah! — that podcast I listened to while I walked my dog was fascinating. Whew. I was ready to rattle off the highlights of my weekend when I walked in. Honestly, I still use this tactic, but it is from a different lens now, because…

One day I realized that people didn’t actually care about what I did that weekend. Not in a “they don’t actually care” kind of way, but in a “they aren’t asking for a report on your weekend” kind of way. When people ask about your weekend, they actually do care about you and they want to connect with you.

Asking about your weekend is actually a way to start a conversation, learn something about you that is interesting, and find a way to connect with you.

Once this clicked for me, I started an experiment. Every time I was asked the weekend question or something similar, I answered the immediate question, but then pivoted to something that was not the direct question. For example, I would talk about a podcast I listened to last Wednesday or bring up that I talked to my mom this morning on the drive in. No one seemed to notice, and more importantly, no one fact-checked me or seemed peeved that I hadn’t actually answered their question. Because getting the exact answer to the question they asked wasn’t their goal, and by offering up something interesting, we almost always had a good conversation.

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