How Are You Doing?
I’ve started writing again. Several thoughts and posts in various stages. No, I haven’t found my rhythm, but much like adjustments that I’ve made to my routine in the past with changes in circumstances, I am working through it.
A thought came to me late last night that I wanted to share and toss around with you: When was the last time you asked how someone was doing? Someone you see every day or someone you haven’t kept in touch with. More importantly, truly cared about the response, no matter how deep or challenging it may be?
To say that we are “living in unprecedented times”, well, that is getting old. But it is our reality and everyone’s personal journey through these times is quite different. Some are shut in, separated from others and we simply don’t see the pain and loneliness that they are going through. Others are having to shoulder significant decisions and responsibilities that can have a widespread impact on many, with few understanding the gravity of the challenges. Many are concerned about their financial health, both short and long term with little control over the significant loss of jobs and prolonged closures. Many are dealing with health concerns, a feeling of being unsafe due to a virus that few understand, in what should be “normal” situations. And sadly, many are having to continually deal with feeling unsafe merely because of the color of their skin and the ignorant and destructive actions of others.
I had a couple of conversations yesterday, both with persons expressing a high degree of stress and anxiety over what is going on in the world today and how it is directly impacting them. I can’t say that I was prepared for either conversation, though I appreciated the opportunity to be there, to listen and learn. Maybe it had an impact, more likely not, but it was important none the less. The fact is, I really couldn’t solve either situation - I will admit that I cannot fully understand what each is going through coming from my own, unique perspective. But sometimes, what one needs most is simply to be asked “how are you doing”, and then simply be heard. The problem with social distancing and social media is that we often miss those queues because our interactions with people have been so significantly limited. Though, if we are being honest, even when we were more physically present, often we miss the signs or the opportunity to engage.
Going back to the conversations yesterday, in one case the person wanted to talk and didn’t need any reassurance from me that I wanted to listen. In the second case, I had to make my desire to hear their feelings a bit more obvious. Often times the question “How are you doing?” sounds like a more superficial “how you ‘doin”, a passing greeting or acknowledgement with no real desire or intent to truly engage.
I will openly admit that I have struggled with this. When I ask “how are you doing”, often it can be perceived that I am merely acknowledging another person with no desire to extend beyond that. It may be my attention darting from eye contact to my laptop to my phone to other shiny objects (I have ADHD and have been known to “squirrel”). Maybe it is the expression on my face (I admittedly have “Resting Retail Face”), or may an eye roll (like, really??!?!). My intent may be genuine, but to give the impression that I am just asking to be polite, if it is taken that way, it simply isn’t acceptable. If yesterday I had given any of those signs, the conversation would have been over before it started. It takes effort, first to ask the question, and second to show through your words, body language and actions that you genuinely are interested. As a former boss used to say to me, “says easy, does hard.”
Admit it. Many of you, many of us, feel helpless with what is going on right now.We want answers, we want solutions. We want to better understand the “new normal” and hope that it is better than the normal that we are seeing right now.I know that connecting with people in this way isn’t the only solution, but it is a start….
So, how are you doing?
(you can follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter @rhoniball, connect with me at www.honiball.me, or drop me a note and let me know how you are doing....)