How are you?

What a harmless question! However, it can reveal secrets about a person’s innermost thoughts or, more often than not, will elicit the automatic reaction of “I’m fine; how are you?” In our everyday interactions, asking someone how they’re doing has become a customary welcome. Although politely acknowledging someone’s presence and demonstrating your concern is important, this question’s importance is sometimes overlooked. The ability to listen intently to the response is what matters most. Think about all the possible outcomes of this conversation. To the inquirer: To engage, I must speak. Am I merely living up to expectations? I’m hoping everything is going well. I hope they will share since I am concerned about them. Please ask me back so I may tell you my tale. Asking will help me hide my true feelings from myself.

The person receiving the question: Do I know this person well enough to share? Do they care about what I have to say? How do I trust them with the truth? I do not wish to share. I do not want to break the image of how people perceive me. There is so much that could be unpacked. However, when we ask with the intent to listen to someone’s response truly, we offer them a safe space to express their emotions, thoughts, and concerns. In doing so, we validate their feelings and demonstrate empathy. We let them know that we are not just passersby but genuine companions who care about their happiness and struggles. Moreover, the skill of active listening when asking, ‘How are you?’ can unearth important insights.

A positive “I’m fine” could be masking deeper tension, grief, or anxiety. Through perceiving nonverbal clues and vocal intonation, we can discern when an individual requires a supportive word, a shoulder to cry on, or just a confidant. Asking someone how they’re doing and truly listening to their response becomes even more important in a world where digital communication frequently takes the place of in-person conversations. It’s simple to miss the subtle emotional cues in spoken interactions while communicating via text or email.

Therefore, it is crucial that we treasure the chance to truly participate and be present in the moment when we do get the chance to interact in person. So, how are you doing when I see you again?

1 Comment

  • April 16, 2024


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