How are you?

How many times do you ask this question or answer this question in a week? As a standard this is how it commonly goes in my world:

“Hello, how are you?”

“Fine thanks, how are you?”

“Good, so I wanted to talk to you about…….”

This whole exchange takes about 3 seconds and then the conversation moves onto the topic at hand. Most people are not actually enquiring how I am, it’s just a way to say hello – a greeting. Which reminded me about something. 

You may have heard of a Doctor called Kate Grainer who was diagnosed with cancer, and she noticed that during her cancer treatment, hardly any of the people delivering her care introduced themselves to her. She became increasingly frustrated by this and started the #hellomynameis campaign, to encourage clinicians and caregivers to introduce themselves and make their care more personal. 

I loved this campaign and remembered it today when someone asked me how I was. The exchange was a perfunctory one and I answered in the expected way, but the truth is, it should have gone like this: 

“Hello, how are you?”

“Well I am sort of ok, but feeling quite stressed out after a difficult few weeks. I am dealing with a lot of uncertainty and it’s starting to take its toll both physically and mentally. My sleep pattern is AWOL and my IBS has flared up”

Because of my job I speak to lots of people during the day and I must get asked over 20 times daily how I am.  Almost 100% of the time I don’t give a real answer. I mean, obviously it’s not appropriate to tell a colleague you barely know about your IBS issues, but I think that the balance definitely needs to shift back the other way. We hear people say that “it’s ok not to be ok”, me included, but I still find myself not being honest in my answers. I am not sure why that is really? 

So if you have got all the way to the end of this post, promise me that the next time a friend or close colleague asks you how you are – you will tell them – be honest and I am positive you will feel just a little bit better and it will be worth it. 

G x 

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