Why do we ask: How are you?
Is “How are you?” your introduction into a conversation? Or is just something that we say as an automatic response when you greet someone?
When you call someone… “Hello, how are you?” Or text… “How are you?” is just something that we all say as a basic response. An automatic, very common, greeting that we use all too often.
But the real questions are:
1. Why do we ask this common everyday question?
2. What is your response?
3. Are we really listening?
Why do we ask this common everyday question?
All too often we have a knee jerk response: I’m good. I’m fine, how are you? Basically, a way to just move on and pass the baton back to the other person who initiated the conversation. This basic everyday question came from an initial inquiry on someone’s health or life, and this has been around for centuries.
How are you? How’s it going? How goes it? What’s up? Sup?
So, is this is just a common polite way to start a conversation? Centuries ago, this question was someone’s interest, a genuine concern about your health and life. But fast forward to the 21st century and this question has just become a surface level question where people don’t actually respond with anything of value or depth and often don’t even listen.
What is your response?
If you think about it, do you just auto respond…. “I’m fine and you?” Or “I’m good, you?” But why not say how things are really going in your life? How your day REALLY went? Or how your health really is? Why keep it such a surface level response of “I’m fine, you?” Is it because we don’t want to actually tell anyone how our life is going? Or we don’t think they care or are actually even listening.
Are we really listening?
When we ask this question, “how are you doing?” are we taking the time to actually listen to the response. Do we care? Do we really hear them and what they are saying?
I think so many times people say how they are doing but if you are not listening, like really listening, then you can miss a cry for help. If someone is hurting or in need of help, that small gesture of actually listening can make a life or death difference.
What will happen if we all add a little depth to our lives and relationships and ask people how they are doing and mean it? And what if we really listen? And then, what if we trust them to truly listen to how we are? And then, what if we try not to fix their lives, offer advice or gossip about their lives? What if we just listen and what if we are just present in that moment, at that time for that person in our life? How might that world be different than the world we are living in right now?