“Don’t tell your friends about your indigestions: “How are you!” is a greeting, not a question”
~Arthur Guiterman, A Poet’s Proverbs”
The first time I saw this quote, my orientation about “the how are you question” change from just a simple, “Fine, thank you, what about you?”
to 10 well crafted answers depending on the situation and who is asking.
1. I’m better than I was yesterday but not as good as I will be tomorrow, what about you?
2. I will be better if you can give me a smile.
3. I’m in desperate need of love and affection, what about you?
4. Trying to be on top of my game, what about you?
5. Do you want the short version or the long version?
6. Still trying to figure it out, what about you?
7. Ready to live my dreams, what about you?
8. I just need a ‘me and you moment’ and I’ll be fine, can you do that?
9. I’m glad to be here with you, what about you?
10. Thank you for caring, I thought I was alone in this World.
Don’t get me wrong, the answer is always funny, amazing and sometimes very annoying, but the most legendary of all is “Same here” each I see “the same here” answer I know that the person was not genuinely interested in me.
So I will not take much interest in the conversation, even though I may answer all the question I may be asked and follow up the conversation depending on the situation and environment.
We were taught during our Nursery School days, how to respond to “the how are you question” and during that time none of us were bold enough to question our teacher.
“Children! Children!! ” Our teacher would say
“Yes Uncle” We would respond.
“How are you today? ”
“Fine, thank you” that was always our early morning rituals, after the normal good morning class drama.
There was no other permitted answer to “the how are you question” besides “Fine, thank you” and we were always so happy to shout at the top of our voices even when some of us maybe crying when our parent left us at the gates to people we barely knew.
“What if we were not fine?” I once asked my Sister.
“Don’t say that, you will always be fine”
But as I grow up, I realized that I needed to be real with myself and the people around me. It is usually said a problem shared is a problem halved.
I believed opening up to the right person can help us heals so many wound.
To me, “How are you” is not just a question but a greeting and an invitation to conversation.
So Don’t be shy to just say fine, thank you, expand the conversation, and be creative with your reply.