When I encounter friends or acquaintances, it’s typical for me to greet them with a perfunctory “How are you?” They generally respond with cursory answers (e.g., fine, okay, good). Despite the fact that we exchange a few words, these conversations aren’t particularly personal or meaningful.
The routine way in which I ask how they are doing belies the fact that I actually want to know how they are doing. I’m learning that the best way to express my sincerity is to ask alternative questions that go beyond a polite greeting and communicate my interest in truly acquiring information.
I’ve used terms like “today” and “tomorrow” in these questions, but you can easily substitute these with terms like “week” or “month” depending on how frequently you see the individual with whom you are speaking. Also, keep in mind that few things communicate sincerity as clearly as body language. Turning towards the individual, making eye contact (if culturally appropriate), and putting away your cell phone go a long way in communicating that you are interested in his or her answer!
How do you ask people about how they are doing? What questions do you ask in order to communicate your interest to friends and acquaintances?
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