How are you…really?
‘How are you?’ is the perfect start to a meaningful conversation. Those three little words can make someone’s day, show someone you care and they can save a life.
It is important to be able to start honest conversations with your friends and to find out how they really are. ‘How are you?’ is a question that is asked frequently, it comes after an initial greeting and is usually answered with a generalised response of ‘I’m fine’. In this article you will find; the impact of how you ask, how to have more meaningful conversations with your friends and the importance of how are you, really!
Taking care of your friends
The impact of how you ask ‘How are you?’
When we greet someone we usually ask ‘how are you?’. In passing situations, sometimes you can feel like you don’t have enough time for the other person to be anything other than fine. But your ‘how are you’ could hold more power than you will ever know. It can be the difference for a stranger to have a great day, it can be the invitation a friend needs to open up about something that is troubling them and it can be enough to disrupt someone who is having suicidal thoughts.
How to ask ‘how are you?’ with meaning
There is a lot of impact in how you ask the question, which will determine the response you get. There are different ways of asking ‘how are you?’.
Honest conversations with friends allow you to build deeper connections. Your friends can then message you in times of doubt, lack of self-worth or despair, knowing you are there for support. Your friends should be people you can talk to when you’re not ok.
From a mental health awareness point of view, frequently people don’t want to share their true feelings because they don’t want to be a burden on their friends. Please note here; friends will never see you as a burden, so don’t go through things alone because you don’t have to.
Alternative ways to ask ‘how are you?’:
*How are you feeling?
*What has been the best part of your week?
*What projects are you working on that are exciting you?
*Have you had any new ideas or set any goals recently?
*What has been inspiring you recently?
Time to change (a growing social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems) have launched a campaign called #AskTwice. It is really important if you suspect a friend, family member, or colleague might be struggling with their mental health or if they are acting differently to show you care. Their campaign is encouraging you to ask ‘how are you?’ twice because the simple act of asking again, with interest, can help someone to open up for the first time.
Watch the Time to change Ask Twice campaign video here.
Listening to how someone is
The most important part of starting a meaningful conversation is that a friend will use your conversation starter to let you now how they are feeling…and you must LISTEN!
Have you ever been talking to some one that went on a long rant at you and you couldn’t get a word in? The other person NEEDS it. Step back from your needs, listen to them and know that they will do the same for you one day.
In order to have long and honest conversations sometimes you must be spontaneous with your time. But helping a friend in need is a priority. Say yes if a friend wants to catch-up last minute and say yes if a friend needs help.
Taking care of yourself
How are YOU?
The question is a great way of checking in with yourself too. Ask yourself… how are you feeling? Sometimes it takes stepping out of your mind to get conscious and to know. It is important to be your own best friend and here is what to do if you’re feeling lonely.
It’s important to share your thoughts, worries, successes and if you’re feeling lonely. The point of family and friends is to have a constant community of support around you.
Your tribe should tick three boxes and you should tick these boxes for your tribe:
*Community –allowing you and your friends to feel valued by others.
*Consistent – Your friends are there when you need them, not when it suits them. People that love you, want to support you and will do anything for you. This works both ways, make time for your friends when they need you, not when it is convenient. Bad times don’t wait!
*Cheerleaders – people that want the best for you. In a fast living world, it’s easy to skip the important bits, the honest conversations and the heart to hearts. These should be a regular thing. Ask your friends how they are actually feeling, what’s happening in their life and what their current goals are. Find out their passions and their struggles and ask how could you help, support or compliment them.
Hopefully ‘how are you’ has a whole new meaning for you now and will be something you consciously use in future to; understand how your friends are really feeling, to identify if a friend has a problem and as a way of checking-in with yourself and your own feelings.