Despite — or, more accurately, because of — the isolation most of us have been experiencing, making an effort to stay connected has proven more important than ever. But asking someone “how they’re doing” in this moment, though the intentions behind it are undoubtedly good, can hit a little differently.
The reality is that most of us, to varying degrees, haven’t exactly been doing great. “I guarantee your email isn’t finding me well,” quips one meme that’s been well circulated since COVID sent us packing inside our homes. We’ve been stressed and we’ve been afraid, for the physical and financial health of ourselves and our loved ones. And although these feelings aren’t something we should shy away from sharing — I personally have been transparent about them pretty much daily — it’s worth bearing in mind that “how are you?” isn’t the trite pleasantry it once was.
But the growing irrelevance of trite pleasantries isn’t something to mourn, either. Now’s the time to make a habit of fostering deeper connections through the daily conversations we’re having, and we can start by replacing “how are you?” with these 13 more effective questions.
1. “How’s your day been going so far?”
2. “How are you taking care of yourself?”
3. “Do you feel like you’ve learned anything new about yourself or about the world during the past few months?”
4. “What’s a way you hope the world will change after all of this?”
5. “What’s become the most important part of your daily routine?”
6. “What’s the last thing that made you laugh?”
7. “When you start to feel anxious, have you found anything that helps?”
8. “What are you reading/listening to/watching right now?”
9. “What’s something you’re looking forward to in the immediate future?”
10. “What’s the first thing you think you’ll do when things are back to normal?”
11. “Where’s the first place you’ll travel to?”
12. “What’s something you’re working on right now?”
13. “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?”
14. “What’s something that gives you hope right now?”
15. “Is there anything I can help you with?”