I’m fine thanks. How are you?
Six simple words, that we all ask and answer every day.
Are you telling the truth when you answer?
Do you really want to know the answer when you ask?
The answer to both of those questions is most likely no.
When we interact with another person, the “Hello, how are you?” is generally used as a brief greeting, devoid of any real meaning, which we use as a bridge to move us on. We either depart and go on to the next task or it might lead on to a conversation.
We do not want or expect to either give or receive a feeling download.
What a nightmare it would be if someone actually told you how they really feel.
Positive vibes are easier to deal with. You might find it a bit odd (especially if you are British) if someone tells you: “I am feeling joy in every part of my body.” But you could take that in your stride, and either make a sharp exit or be curious to find out the reason.
How would you feel if someone said: “Actually I am feeling anxious today and I am not myself”?
Would it be:
It might make you feel all those things. You may feel overwhelmed and out of your depth. You may panic and think that you do not know what to do or say. You might garble something trite or be stunned into silence.
Most, but not all, human beings seek connection, and we are pretty good at connecting with others. Connection helps us to stop feeling lonely. We do not need special training to do it. We can make a positive impact on someone’s day with simple gestures like a nod, smile, kind word and a friendly ear.
It is true that listening is a skill, but you do not need special training to have a conversation. You are not expected to unpack the other person’s problems. Leave that to the trained professionals.
Knowing how to signpost the other person to get the help, that they need, is all that is required. That is not so hard.
So, I invite you to try asking:
“How are you?”
and follow up their answer with:
“What is going well for you today?”
It will open a dialogue and create a space for the other person to express something good. The conversation will create a connection and allow the other person to feel seen and heard. If they go on to tell you that they are not OK, don’t panic you only need to signpost not fix them.
You might be the first person who has asked and really cares about the answer.
- 1/3 of marriages end in Divorce
- average age of women 43.9
- Most organisations will employ senior professional women who are getting divorced
- It can be very lonely
What can you or your organisation do to help?
- You can support women, in your organisation by encouraging dialogue – it helps to remove stigma and raises awareness of mental health
- Make it easy for people to signpost colleagues, who need extra support – a workshop or webinar may be helpful
- Make accessible support part of your EAP (Employee Assistance Programme)
- Think about introducing peer support programmes
- Appoint a mental health champion
- Make it a priority to do it rather than just saying you support an idea