How Are You?

Do you really care to know? Or has that become an automated three word phrase we use without much thought?

On my way home this evening, I walked by a gentleman standing outside an electronic store with a cigarette in his hand. He smiled and asked “how are you?” I responded “I’m doing good, how are you?” “I’m blessed,” he said with a smile, “truly blessed!” Now, how was I going to top that? His question and response made me think about the significance of those three words, and how often we abuse them.

I have observed people ask “how are you?” But by the time I open my mouth to respond, they are long gone. They really didn’t care about how I was doing, so why bother? If all that was intended was a mere greeting, why not just say “hello!” That would suffice.

Last week I spoke with another attorney, an opponent. At the beginning of our telephone call I asked her how she was doing. She responded “I’m good, I won’t complain because no one wants to listen.” We both laughed at her comment, but the truth is, we are so accustomed to the phrase “how are you?” being used as a greeting in passing, we cannot possibly imagine there are people who ask the question and actually care to know the response. “Go for it,” I said,  “I can lend a listening ear today.”  Not surprisingly, she did not take me up on my offer.

Most of us, I am sure, are guilty of using the phrase like robots. We often hear people, but seldom do we take the time to truly listen. Sometimes we are in a hurry, or simply don’t want to be bothered. It is possible someone may need us to ask the question “how are you?” and really care to know the response.

Until next time,

Christine

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