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Sometimes the two of us just get a’chattin’ on instant messenger, and we think, we should talk like this on Fresh Living!  So…..welcome to our afternoon chitty chat, which we hope you pull up a chair to and add your thoughts into the combox. 

Holly: hey–this morning in the meeting you said something i’ve been thinking about all day – “people like to be asked, ‘how are you?'”  it got me thinking about the different ways we answer that question

Valerie: oh, wow, interesting

Valerie: like, “fine”

Valerie: or “can’t complain”

Holly: or “ok”

Valerie: or we just ignore it and ask the other person right back taking it more as greeting than question

Holly: exactly. i was actually brought up that way: the answer to “How are you?” is “Fine, thank you, how are you?”

Valerie: wow

Holly: yeah

Valerie: very emily

Holly: politeness first!

Valerie: right. surface before substance. Also, there’s an assumption that nobody cares how you are

Holly: exactly – and you shouldn’t expect them to

Holly: though, if everyone thought that way, no one would ever have anything to say!
Fine, thank you, how are you? I’m fine, thanks, how ’bout you? Fine, thanks…..oy!

Valerie: yes! ping pong

Valerie: and it’s all in the asking. some people have a away of asking “how are you?” that makes me want to weep, like the tenderness of that as a real question, and realizing you are so not fine at all

Holly: yes – and like the person is patiently ready for a real answer

Holly: ditto for when you ask someone and they look at you like, “do you really want to know?” that makes me feel teary too, like “quick! let’s pour some herbal tea and sit down so we can share something”

Valerie: aw

Valerie: yeah

Valerie: and then you have to ask yourself–do i really want to know? do i have space to receive this person right now?

Holly: right – do I have room for…whatever this is

Holly: part of that depends on whether you can trust that they’d have room for you–or will have room after they’ve unburdened themselves

Valerie: ah, exactly

Valerie: or just accepting that they won’t because they never have and settling in for a listen anyway, even tho it might feel weird

Holly: yes. an exercise in not giving-to-get

Valerie: exactly

Valerie: sometimes i even think, “i’m just going to offer myself here”

Holly: that’s a great way to put it – it’s open, so the person can either take what you’re offering, or not (back to the “I’m fine….nice weather we’re having” thing)

Valerie: right

Valerie: i guess i just hate it when i leave feeling like an overstuffed sofa. and like they didn’t even receive my “gift”–ha, so much for giving not to get–because i’m just a vessel, another wall to talk at

Holly: right – like you’re a video diary on a reality show…a faceless receptor of thoughts

Valerie: ha, yes

Holly: so if everyone likes to be asked “How are you?” are we bad people if we don’t always want to ask?

Valerie: ahhh, interesting

Valerie: and no. i feel like i try and mean it

Valerie: and to say something else if i can’t

Holly: something like…authenticity? love it!

Valerie: ha, yes, something like that.

Valerie: i used to get really upset when people would ask and not want an answer. until i realized “how are you” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone

Holly: ooh, great point

Valerie: and not sure exactly but being connected to people who aren’t interested in connecting sometimes means just meeting them where they are

Valerie: accepting that they’re not interested and not taking it personally or judging them

Holly: right. Might I recommend “Fine, thank you, how are you?” in those situations?

Valerie: ha!

Valerie: yes, exactly

Holly: then you will have given them exactly what they were really asking for

Holly: oops, that was cynical

Valerie: no

Valerie: i think that’s realistic. kind, actually

Valerie: you’re not trying to turn them into anything

Valerie: or maybe they’re just preoccupied

Valerie: and you’re being respectful

Holly: true. i need to print this out and carry it in my purse for next time i’m faced with the irritation i usually feel in those situations

Holly: maybe I’ll just put it on the blog

Valerie: or that!

Holly: it’s a deal….

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