Rethinking ‘how are you?’ [Beyond Blue]

Summary of article:

  • We’ve all been there. Someone asks you how you are, and you respond with “fine thanks” without even thinking. “Pretty good” and “not bad” are other popular auto-responses. And then there’s the dreaded exchange where you ask someone how they are twice within 10 seconds — “How are you? Fine thanks, you? Yeah good. You?”
  • ‘How are you?’ has become a question that is almost rhetorical – one that we’re supposed to answer as if we were following a scriptSay hello, ask each other how it’s going, respond that everything’s great and then move on to the next topic of discussion!
  • But what if things aren’t going great? What if you’re one of three million Australians living with an anxiety condition or depression. 
  • Having meaningful conversations with friends and family is so important as it presents you, or the person you’re talking to, with an opportunity to open up about issues you’re dealing with. Starting a conversation off with a scripted ‘I’m fine’ doesn’t exactly set the scene for an honest chat to follow.
  • It’s ok to let your guard down every now and then – to be vulnerable – rather than numbing yourself.
  • If you’re having a hard time, perhaps you’d like to get the ball rolling by saying that you’ve had a tough week at work or uni, or that your motivation has been lacking lately.
  • Sharing some of the things you are struggling with can help start the conversation. Be careful not to make it all about you though.
  • It goes both ways. If you ask a friend or family member how they are, pay attention to their response.
  • This is not to say you have to treat every conversation with friends and family as a ‘deep and meaningful’ – rather to listen to a person’s response when you ask them how they’re going.
  • Be relaxed but also show that you care about how they’re going. Look them in the eye. If you’ve observed that they have been behaving differently of late, let them know that you’ve noticed a change. Practise being a good listener and don’t interrupt them or rush the conversation. Give them the opportunity to explain if they’re going through a rough time. Tell them that you’re there for them.
  • Never underestimate the power of a conversation.
  • Suicide prevention campaigns such as #YouCanTalkand RUOK Day emphasise the importance of honest, meaningful conversations. For someone going through a rough time, it might be just what they need.

Source: for full article publicly available via FB go here @


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