We ask people ‘How are you?’ on a daily basis, we ask it in person, in an email, in a text or over the phone. The answers we give can range from ‘great, thank you’ to ‘ok’ or ‘fine’, but one of the responses I use is ‘Not bad, thanks’. Not bad, that doesn’t imply that we are good or great, it just suggests that we are not awful or sick or fighting for our lives. It’s a meh response. Why do I say it!
I think we get conditioned to not bother people with how we truly feel and what we are actually experiencing at that time. If I had a headache and felt sick I wouldn’t mention this, I’d still say ‘Not bad’! We often give these responses as we know the other person will leave it at that. If you say you are doing ‘fine’ that’s a perfectly legit response so we don’t need to question it further. If I said ‘great’ or ‘not good’ the likelihood is the person asking will want to know why!
But why shouldn’t we be truthful? Why shouldn’t we say how we are feeling and express how are day is going in an honest way? Would it just be too uncomfortable for the person asking?
Jane: How are you today Emma?
Me: Well, I didn’t sleep well last night, I’ve got a sore head and a dodgey foot and I think my lunch has upset my tummy, looking forward to the day being over! How are you?
Jane: Erm…great, fine thank you. Sorry to hear…gotta go!
I mean, she might ask if I’m alright and if there is anything she can do, but unless she’s a close friend then I doubt she wants to go into it all! However, if I was excited and happy and beaming, it may be a different story. She may be more likely to chat further and find out why I feel this way.
Maybe there is a middle ground, we can be honest but not overshare. But do we want to silence ourself? We all know that annoying person who will give us chapter and verse with all their ailments and 10 minutes later you wished you’d never asked. We all don’t want to be that person. However, is this person just being honest, being true to themselves? They were asked a question and they answered, what’s the harm in that? Why not be honest?
I think we worry we’ll come across as moany or indeed bore the other person with details they really don’t want to hear. So we keep it simple.
The person asking ‘How are you?’ May need to shoulder some of the responsibility. They are asking, so they should be prepared to listen to the answer and accept that we aren’t always going to be ‘fine’ or ‘not bad’. Sometimes we do need to say how we truly feel, it’s in our nature, we need to get it off our chest, let it out and feel listened too!
So, next time you ask someone ‘How are you?’ Be prepared for a truthful answer, it may not be your typical five second response, but does that matter? Surely listening to someone is more important. Otherwise why ask the question!
Equally, when answering the question, be as truthful as you want, however, think about how much info you want to give away and what, in your eyes would be too much detail.
At the end of the day, divulge as much details as you wish and accept any answers given. If we all start being truthful to this simple question, then will we be happier?
Have a lovely week, thank you for reading and make sure you look after you this week.
Love Emma xx