Friend: How are you?
You: I am good. How are you?
Friend: I am good too.
(The biggest and most meaningful conversation just ended).
I am pretty sure this sounds familiar. Happens with me. Probably happens with you too.
We are living in the modern world of meaningless conversations and small talks. It is like everything is superficial. We might have some good intention behind asking our friends or loved ones how they are. It is necessary that we ask them. But in the midst of a noble intention sometimes we don’t realize that we are not very observant of what we are asking and what our closed ones are replying. Sometimes or I should say most of the time (in this modern world) we don’t see the pattern in our repeated questions and answers. That is why it is high time that we re-define the “How are you?” question.
“How are you” shouldn’t always be about work
How many times you ask someone how they are and you literally mean ‘how is your work’ or ‘how is your internship/job going’ or ‘how’s studies going at the university’ or ‘how many online courses have you done during the COVID-19 pandemic’? Again, sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I know it is going to sound cliche and you probably have heard it many times before- work is just a part of life, it is not the life. We don’t try to understand that may be someone out there doesn’t want us to ask how their professional life is going. Maybe they want us to ask them how they are doing besides their work. It’s like we have made up our lives totally about professional success. We constantly identify ourselves with the kind of work we do, our professional accomplishments, etc. as if life ends and begins with mere work. The next time you ask someone about their life make sure you don’t just make it about work. Be kind and humble enough to be a little bit observant. You might make their day better.
“How are you” is also about- how are you regulating your emotions and what can I do to help if they are unregulated at this point of time
Everyone struggles. While it may be true that some people have to struggle a lot more than others, still, the bottom line is: we all struggle. It is inevitable. With different kinds of challenges and obstacles come different emotions: anger, frustration, sadness, disgust, happiness, envy, jealously, pleasure, etc. Sadly, we are very ignorant when it comes to understanding people’s varied emotions. We don’t care enough to ask how they are regulating their emotions. And so, extending a hand for help never crosses our minds. It is possible that such ignorance is unintentional and we aren’t aware of such little things. Nevertheless, it is high time that we help our loved ones in regulating their emotions- even if they ask for our help or not.
If you’re okay with their “I am fine” replies, stop asking your “how are you” question
“How are you?” “I am fine.” Done. Trust me, nobody is fine. There is always something going on in everybody’s life. It’s just that some people hide it better than the others. Our problem is that we let it go if someone says he or she is fine. I think a little push is what we need so that we create a comfortable environment for our closed ones to be able to share things with us. I don’t think we should be very quick in jumping on to another question whenever someone says they are fine. It is like we are all doing a formality by asking our superfluous the “How are you?” question.
It is easy to ask “How are you?”. But it is very difficult to bear with the real story behind that question.