Think about it – how often is it used without ever really sticking around in the conversation long enough to fully know how someone truly is?
This phrase keeps us playing roles. One role, for example, is “I’m friendly and polite,” and the other role is “I won’t expose what I’m really thinking or feeling inside.” Most of us have really only learned how to make nice with one another – keeping our happy masks on.
It makes sense. For one, the discomfort of hearing someone’s sad or angry or dramatic story makes the generic “how are you” role comfortable. For two, it’s just not that socially acceptable to really be that vulnerable with people. Right?
If “how are you” feels natural and you really do want to know, then follow-up with another question. Go straight into the discomfort, and make the next question open-ended. Allow some space for someone to really share. You’re giving them a gift. You don’t have to have an answer or a response, just an ear and a little compassion.
If “how are you” feels natural and you really don’t want to know, then practice not saying it. Try, “It’s good to see you,” or “What’s new in your world?” or compliment their beautiful smile and ask “What makes you happy today?”
INspired Leadership Team
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