Vладiмiр (1way_to_english) wrote,

What are great responses to the question: How are you?

Once upon a time the question, “How are you” lost its meaning for me. I found myself ignoring the question or answering “fine” quickly then moving onto the conversation at hand. Or I’d ask “How are you” as an attachment to “hello” on the phone and ignoring the answer I received, which was usually “fine”. Occasionally the other person didn’t even answer because he too, has tuned out the question as I’d learned to.

Then I had a moment of just-in-time self observation, one day, when I was tuning out another “how are you” and catching myself doing so. I noticed I was tuning it out, that I became deaf to the answer when it was given, even if it was the typical “fine!”

So I decided to give a great response to this jaded question. Instead of answering immediately, I waited for 2 or 3 seconds after the other person has asked the question. The brief silence usually gets the person’s attention.
Then I responded: “I’m fine, thank you. And you?”

And I wait with the full intention of listening for the answer.

I’ve found that by slowing down my response time, giving my response in a conscious manner, lobbing the question back to the other person, and waiting attentively for the response, I changed the dynamic of what has become a jaded greeting.

My response hasn’t needed to be smart or dramatic to get the other person’s attention and level of engagement right from the beginning. All I had to do was to put a genuine intent to make this question meaningful again, and as a basic way to set the kind of tone I want to set for whatever conversation I wanted to have. The same principle has worked for me in “real life” conversations as well.

So a great response to “How are you” is not a response at all, but the brief moment of empty space needed to make the question meaningful.

This simple act has changed the response in the other person and the atmosphere of that moment. By caring about the answer, I helped both of us care about the question again.

update: I’ve been... {2 second pause} I’m fine, thank you, and you?” more in real life these days and this still works like a charm.

What still surprises me even now, is how often I catch people startled enough to stop from their busyness to think about the answer. Even when they say or mutter, “good, good…” I can tell they took those few seconds to wonder how they have been doing. (с) источник, здесь можно прочесть ещё 66 вариантов ответа на банальный вопрос "Как дела?"

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