Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Answering the "How Are You?" Question

That question that you say in passing.

That question that you don't always care to know the answer to.

That question where it's said so flippantly sometimes that we don't stop to think about our answer.

That question that we respond to in automatic mode.

That question that got me technically caught in a lie earlier this week. And I didn't even realize it. Even after it was pointed out to me it took me a minute to recognize what they were talking about.

It's amazing how quickly we become used to answering the "how are you?" question with a simple and fast "good", "fine", or "great, how are you?"

But how often do we really stop, slow down, process, and respond in 100% honesty?

We wonder if they're asking as a courtesy or because they really want to know.

Like when I recently walked into a 7-Eleven and the lady behind the counter smiled, said "how are you?" and immediately turned to go into the back room. Clearly she didn't actually want an answer.

Now thankfully for me the other night I was caught by one good friend to another, with the one knowing I was doing pretty terribly and the other not having a clue. I responded "good... how are you?" and immediately the one stopped me in my tracks and noted that was not at all true and said "well you little liar... you are so not good!!". The other one and I stopped, processed, and... there was some hugging.

These are good friends and I'm actually surprised it came out the way it did--so automatically whereas typically I'd be completely real with these good friends--but I think I've become sort of desensitized to it.
I always want to be real, especially with those I know truly care about me, but there are still others where the response has just become an automatic.

Why do you think we do this?

No answer from here... just contemplating.....


blueviolet said...

I think it's because we know the other person probably doesn't want to hear our tales of woe, so we just pretend all is well, but we shouldn't do that!

Jamie said...

I think the majority of people either *think* they want to know or just don't really want to know... but they really only want to know, if it's a positive response.

I really try to listen, when people respond to that question. Some people have become so desensitized to it that they don't even respond (when I ask them at work in passing, I turned to hear the response, and they didn't give one at all).

It's sad, really. It's silly to ask a question about another person without really caring what the response is.