How are you? It’s something we say as we pass someone on the street or greet a friend at a party. Those who answer generally keep their responses short and positive. Choices are limited to, “good/well” (depending one’s adherence to grammar rules) or just “all right”. Answering with something like “not good” – or better yet, “terrible!”- begs further conversation but by then, you’ve likely moved on and the “conversation” is already forgotten. Your obligation to proper conversational etiquette complete, you are free to carry on.
What ended up prompting this thought bubble was a recent visit to the doctor’s office. After sitting down on the exam table, my doctor asked me how I was doing and unlike so many of my interactions, she actually wanted to know my response. Her eyes made contact with mine and she didn’t appear in any hurry for a rehearsed reply. True, it’s her job to assess my physical and mental well-being, but I also felt like she really cared about how I was doing. Her questions weren’t limited to so-called “conversational etiquette;” she delved deeper, pausing to reflect on things we had discussed at previous visits. She was earnest and she was paying attention. Frankly, it meant a lot to know she cared.
Having someone really listen to me was a breath of fresh air, and I wanted to pay it forward. With summer here and so many new opportunities to catch up with old friends, it’s a chance to hear how they are really doing. “No, really. HOW are you?” Rather than relying on my habit of liking Facebook statuses or using people’s birthdays to show I care, it’s nice to check-in and exchange more than hurried pleasantries once in a while. It’s a win-win as I’m left with a strengthened connection – or re-connection – and the knowledge I made a small rift in someone’s lowered expectations.
Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm™