How are you? It seems to be such a simple question and the first one people tend to ask when seeing eachother. The most common response is probably along the lines of “Yeah, I’m doing fine, thanks. How about you?” And then the conversation would really start. But… Are we answering truthfully, or so we just not want to burden the other person with our personal issues?
How to answer to that
For a while now, I’ve been struggling with my answer. Some days that question is so hard and nearly impossible to answer. I don’t always know what to say without either lying or making the other person uncomfortable. By now a lot of people know I’m not well, but most don’t really understand what Long COVID entails. But the ones that don’t know, how do I deal with them? I don’t want to throw a bucket of drama over them, but I also don’t want to lie. And it also really depends on who is standing in front of me.
Lately one my default answers has been “It varies. I have good and bad days.” It’s a fairly neutral and doesn’t really get into things. If people want to know more, the conversation will usually steer itself.
Alternatives to ‘How are you?’
But I’ve been thinking. That one, standard conversation opener of “How are you?”, could we possibly try to find alternatives? How about “What put a smile on your face today?” or “What’s the funniest thing your dog/cat/kid/parent did yesterday?” or just a simple “How was your day today?” Not only are questions like that less loaded, but they work way, WAY better in starting a conversation. And don’t underestimate the fact that it show actual interest in the person standing before you.
Let’s all try to open up our conversations to be more open and with that also more meaningful. Be open, listen and don’t be afraid to ask. And remember: sometimes just don’t ask questions you might not like the answer to.
Let me know in the comments what alternatives you would like to ask or be asked!