Sunday, April 12, 2015

How Are You? What The Question Really Means And Why We Don't Answer Truthfully

The one question that we are asked everyday is 'How are you doing?' People ask us, and we in return ask them the same. It's a common exchange that becomes a superficial social interaction that most of us are guilty of.

Colleagues that we work with. Classmates. Friends. Even family members that we see often and live with don't give much thought to the question of 'How are you ?' But we should.

The truth is, we don't take the time to really find out about each other's well-being because we are often too preoccupied with our own. It's also the reason why we don't truthfully reveal how we are doing when the question is casually posed. Why bother when the person is only being courteous and is not genuinely concerned about us.

Someone who is sincerely interested in how you are doing, and asks the question as an invitation to engagement, rather than an empty one (fine) or two word (pretty good) exchange, is communicating care, concern, and a desire to connect with you on a deeper level than how you appear to be doing. We all know how those earnest inquiries feel, and what they trigger inside of us emotionally; they provide an almost therapeutic release.

Asking someone how they are doing is not about information, or about the time that we take or make to listen to their response; it's really about empathizing, or rather your willingness and ability to do so.

Human beings are complex creatures with complex lives and emotions that impact their states from moment-to-moment, not just day-to-day, which is why we ask each other, 'How are you?' everyday. Having others who can empathize with us creates a sense of relatedness, which is a basic need for psychological growth.

Just imagine seeing your co-workers, friends, or spouse and saying, "Hey, can you take a moment and let me empathize with how you are feeling or what you are experiencing at this moment?" That's a scenario in which human relations would deepen, and be significantly (and almost instantly) upgraded.