How many times a day do you ask someone this, in some form or fashion? How are ya, what’s up, what’s going on, or any other phrase you tend to use. It’s a pleasantry more than anything, really. I don’t actually care how you are, I’m simply saying hello in what seems like a genuine way. Are you the same way? Don’t let me speak for you, although I have a feeling you’re like me. Here’s the conclusion I am coming to: I should be more genuine. Should you?
What are the ramifications of asking a question that we don’t care to have answered, in any meaningful way? I think it’s missed opportunity. I don’t know that I am inherently hurting anyone’s feelings by my simple, “how are ya?” but what I am doing is missing the chance to actually learn how they are. My question is not wrong, my intentions and motives are. What if we, you and me, took more time to be interested in others? What if we actually wanted to wait the 15 extra seconds to let someone give a real answer to the question?
Here’s the cool part, you’re in control of both sides. Sometimes you are asking and sometimes you are being asked. What is your standard response to “how are you?” If you’re like me then it’s not well thought out. Maybe at this point you’re thinking, “Kelly, why did you think about this and why are you writing about it?” Here’s why, last week had World Mental Health Day included in it and a friend of a friend’s father died by suicide last week. It’s a topic we hear a lot about and it’s super touchy. The question then becomes, what is our role in someone else’s mental health?
I don’t have the answer, but I think a good place to start is being genuine with the simple question, how are you? Take some time and wait for a response. Maybe change up your tone when you ask it. Here’s a cool one, ask someone that isn’t expecting it, call your friends, send a text, go out of your way just a tad. We don’t have to feel the weight of saving the world but what if we start with a simple question, “how are YOU?”
Trust me, I know it’s time consuming and you could definitely end up in a lengthy conversation you weren’t ready for but you have to remember it’s not about you. It’s about them, whoever they are for you. The interesting part about asking the question first and waiting for a real response is they may return the favor. You have stuff too, don’t forget. Be open to talking with those you love and feel comfortable with. This could be good for all parties.
Here are the steps that I am going to take as I work on this process myself:
Slow down, ask the question, wait for the answer, listen, then respond with sincerity.