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,