Every time we ask people the question ‘How are you?’, there are standard answers that follow; I am fine, I’m okay, or I’m alright. More often than not, we ask how other people are based on a surface level without paying attention to the nonverbal cues emitting from who we are asking. We don’t really want to know how others are doing but we just want to get to the conversation that ensues after asking the infamous question.

For that reason alone, the person who has been asked the question will find it difficult to answer truthfully because they are aware of the pattern that follows after being asked ‘How are you?’. They don’t deem you safe or trustworthy enough to be vulnerable or share parts of themselves with you because they have perceived that you are not asking the question sincerely, it is just a conversation starter for you. We need to put more effort when asking others how they are doing. It should be genuine and you should be open to listening.

Although for some, just as someone who is being asked the question decides on whether they’ll share their burden with you, as someone who is asking the question, you also have the right to decide to not take on that energy by simply reframing the question into a statement. Going along the lines of;

“I know you are probably going through a lot lately. I’d like to be there for you but I’m not in the best place or headspace to lend you a listening ear at this time. However, I do hope we are able to persevere through this together and be our best selves again.”

In case no one has asked you, How are you REALLY doing? I want to know. Write me back, you’ve got my undivided attention.

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