“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.” – Claude Levi-Strauss
Asking someone how they’re doing almost always has a good intention behind it. Yet if the person on the receiving end is constantly being asked how they’re doing the question and answer tend to be not genuine.
In particular, if someone doesn’t know how they’re feeling, trying to find the words to answer the simple question can feel exhausting. It can also feel like you’re being put on the spot so instead of answering honestly they have a go-to answer of ‘I’m good’ or ‘I’m fine’. Once that answer is out in the open you don’t want to pry anymore.
Here are some ways you can spark a conversation without the simple yet remarkably complicated question ‘How are you doing?’
You can offer some insight into how you are feeling first. Creating an open conversation and being vulnerable without making them feel like they too have to be vulnerable.
Another way of going about it is by asking something specific. It can be anything from how they’ve been sleeping to what they’ve been thinking about.
Similar to the one above you can ask how they’ve been doing in one particular area. You can do this by asking how have you been doing mentally recently. You can replace the word mentally with whatever you want, it can be physically, spiritually, etc.
Offer an activity to do together, and actually do it. Open-ended questions and statements fill our day but actually follow through with a comment or suggestion.
Create an open door for support, without asking questions. You can do this by letting someone know that you miss them, are thinking of them, and are always there for them. Trust me this can go a long way. The key is to make sure you don’t add unnecessary questions.
Be curious, as about what books or movies they’ve watched recently. Or if any good music or playlist have been created. People enjoy talking about themselves, so although these questions might seem surface level they can still offer a lot of insight into how a person is doing.
If you do ask a question or the simple how are you doing, make sure that they’re aware that there’s no pressure to respond. This can lighten the load and be a comforting feeling instead of overwhelming.