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3 Ways to Ask Someone “How Are You?” And Actually Mean It

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It was a perfect, sunshine-y day. I grabbed my favorite shades and a dreamy Nutella latte and joined a friend who recently moved to the desert at an outside table at one of my favorite local coffee shops. We chatted, remarked on the moving process, talked about the massive ordeal unpacking truly is, and laughed about common first-time moving fails.

And then I looked her straight in the eyes and asked her this question: “How are you really doing?”

Her eyes brimmed with a look I knew all too well. She looked straight back into my eyes and dove into the depths of what her heart was really going through in the midst of mountains of boxes and the sting of all-to-recent goodbyes.

When is the last time someone asked you that question and you knew they meant it with every fiber of their being, they really cared, they really wanted to know? Each time someone pushes past the surface and past the culturally polite “how are you?”, I know I have personally been deeply, intimately touched.

We long to be known. We ache to be seen. We thirst for someone to simply reach out, grab our hand, and care enough to say, “I see you.” The question is, will we risk being that person for those around us?

I believe we set the pace for the kind of life we want to lead. So, if we long for meaningful relationships, we must first step up to the plate and offer meaning. If we desire to be known, we must seek to know.

So, how can we ask the normal, expected and all too surfac-y question, “how are you?”, and show we really mean it?

  1. It’s all about body language. How we say what we say often makes more of an impact than the words themselves. When asking someone how they are, stop. Pause and look them in the eyes, using your body language to show you really care.
  2. Give it a minute. Don’t ask and ditch. Really listen to the person’s answer and see if you can ask a follow-up question to go a little deeper. How we respond when someone answers can have the power to say we really do care or don’t care at all.
  3. Do for some what you wish you could do for all. Building meaningful relationships with people takes time, investment and intentionality. It takes work. We won’t be able to dive deep with everyone or in every conversation, but we can still show love to everyone. Intentionally take time with a few—do for some what you wish you could do for all. And when your schedule allows it, stop and chat with people you don’t typically pause for. Sometimes just one interaction is the very life-giving medicine someone needs.

Let’s set the pace for great conversation. Let’s ask good questions. Let’s look into each other’s eyes. Let’s take the time to pause long enough to show we care. Let’s check our hearts and remember that we too long to be seen, to be known, to be valued and to be heard. Let’s treat those around us the way we want to be treated. Let’s become what we want to experience in the world.

So, my friend, how are you…really?

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