What to Ask Instead of ” How Are You . . ?
Are you tired of asking everyone, “How are you doing right now? In his recent Best Ideas of the Month newsletter, Dr. Ron Friedman posed the question, “Tired of using the same opening line in every meeting?”
Ron provided a link to an article “20 Questions to Ask Instead of ‘How Are You Doing Right Now?’” written by Elizabeth Weingarten, managing editor of Behavioral Scientist magazine. He suggests trying one of these questions instead and see how it changes the tenor of your conversation. Ron’s favorite is “What are you most looking forward to doing when things settle down?”
Weingarten states that “How are you doing right now?” was a useful question at first as an assumption-free signal of care. But it’s become a query that seems to now inspire a scripted, reflexive response. This often includes an acknowledgment that someone is “hanging in there” despite the circumstances, while also feeling gutted for the folks who are struggling more than they are, or risking their lives to save others—the healthcare workers, the food deliverers, the parents who are homeschooling and working at the same time, the single mothers who have the virus, being tended to by their toddlers.
She continues, “When we keep asking the same question, or no questions at all, we lose out on a chance for deeper connections with our conversation partners, who also happen to be the people we care most about. We are tricked into believing we know how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking, when we haven’t even scratched the surface.
“Fundamentally, learning how to ask questions of ourselves and of the ones who we love can help us to embrace, rather than avoid, the uncertainty that envelopes our lives. To paraphrase the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, we are all now living our questions—dozens of them, everyday—whether we like it or not.
“Here are some sample questions for getting beyond “How are you?”
Nine questions for taking things a step further
Weingarten adds, “These are questions to consider if you’re interested in deepening connections in your 1:1 meetings or virtual coffees, or with people outside of your work life:
Now, take action.
Pick a few of Weingarten’s questions you like and start asking more meaningful questions. You could help change someone’s life.
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