Monday, September 28, 2009

Do you really want to know?

This morning, on the radio, Jeff Spiller used his daily "Perceptions" to tell a story of a young lawyer who was drawn into conversation by asking the simple question "How are you?" The man he asked gave an honest answer and the young lawyer took the time to listen to the man's story. I am not going into that story here but musing on a point: How often do we ask that same question without really caring to get an honest answer? How many times do we answer that question with a dishonest answer because we think the person doesn't really want to know the truth?

I have asked and been asked that question so many times I wouldn't care to try and count. Yet, I can't say that I have ever encountered anyone who really wanted to know and who would be willing to sit and listen when things are bad. And I mean listen, not give advice, not offer platitudes of life and love, really listen. I won't say that every time I ask, I am hoping for a honest response, but I hope that if it is given I would be willing to listen.

As for my answer, I tend to give the expected, "Good," "Well" or some variation of a positive response to both let the person off the hook or not show how much I am hurting, confused or just out of it I am.


  1. The normal answer around here is "fine". I never give that answer. Ever. I'm one of those people that will think for a second and then answer honestly (including the occasional "pissed off, but I'll be ok") This probably stems from back when I was in Youth Group. I got tired of everybody being "fine" when asked how they were so I started answering honestly. I had such great results (tons of new friends and I learned a lot about current friends) that I made a habit of it. I find it refreshing to know I'm not the only one that answers "How are you?" in the same boring fashion.

  2. Great post! But yeah...most of the time, it's strictly a courtesy question....ppl don't really want to hear the answer. I just respond with, "Good...and you?"
    Unless they say, "No, how are you REALLY?", then I let it go.
    Thanks for the comment/flw!

  3. If you say: "Well, things are actually crap, you wanna get a cup o' tea and hear all about my insomnia and blogging addiction?".

    Nah they don't give a rats arse about the answer, they're just being polite...

  4. Came over from Monica Manning, and YES, I really want to know. Wrote a similar post:

    Your thoughts?