Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"How Are You?"

How are you? How many times a day do we ask this or do others ask this of us?

Usually the person asking, including ourselves, doesn't really wait for or expect an answer. It seems just part of a dying social etiquette. And usually the answer is "good", "fine" or "okay". How often do we match the answer to the person we are speaking to? This seems to only occur when the answer is something unusual, something that doesn't just flow with what the ear expects to hear.

If the person rates their status as less than good, fine or okay, we may momentarily pause to look the person in the eye and ask "What's going on?" or "Are you okay?" Generally we don't put down the bag we are holding, nor shut the open car door, or stop walking and turn around in order to focus on the person who has just failed to answer the benign "How are you?" question properly. We are looking for a very quick description of the problems faced, a brief reason why things are not fine, a condensed explanation of what is wrong. More often than not, once the other person speaks these brief replies, we are back to what we were doing, with an airy "I hope your day gets better" or a "Let me know if I can help".

Crazy, isn't it?

It is definitely easier to go about one's day without knowing if the people in our lives are "okay" or not. We dole out our energy based on how important the other person is and whether or not we even heard the response anyways. Usually there is no opportunity to completely stop and place our focus on another. The day is long, the list is long, the commitments are too many. So actually being able to stop, look the other person in the eye, and LISTEN is rare. Maybe we don't necessarily want to know. Then we might have to do something about it

No comments: