Learn how to understand, recognize, and support those who are feeling far from "fine."
'How are you?' Really?
Discover Ways To Allow Others To Be Real.
It is interesting how this question – “How Are You?” – has become more of a general greeting vs. a genuine inquiry.
It is no wonder the typical response, “I’m Fine,” has become the standard, even when the person is far from “fine.” It is also notable why people simply respond with, “I’m fine.”
- may not be tapped into their own emotions/emotional intelligence to differentiate how they’re really feeling
- don’t have the communication skills to articulate how/what they’re feeling
- don’t want to burden others with their (heavier) emotions
- don’t feel safe to be vulnerable and divulge their true feelings
- don’t feel the other person is genuine in asking, or really cares
- in contrast, feel they may outshine the other person with being overly upbeat and positive
In a professional environment, it is often more compounded. People are more constrained in expressing how they are truly feeling. They believe authenticity and vulnerability are not deemed “appropriate,” nor championed. Why do people shut down?
Often, our workplace cultures simply don’t encourage emotional intelligence, or authentic expression. Instead, the culture is prone to promoting an “I’m fine” mentality.
While it may feel uncomfortable, there are enormous benefits to gently stretching our comfort zones, being authentic, and sharing our real feelings. And, if we want to change the workplace culture, we have to be the change.
How do you bring change, show you care, and allow others to be themselves?
Let’s take a look at 3 ways to honestly and meaningfully answer, 'How Are You?':
1) Lead by example. When we lead by example, we show others what it means and what it feels to be honest, vulnerable, and authentic. By sharing our (real) selves, we support others in feeling safe to do the same. And, a true culture of change means any person, in any role leads by example.
2) Practice vulnerability. As leadership expert, Dr. Brené Brown, reminds us, vulnerability is our super power, not a weakness. It means empowerment - and a power from within. It is incredibly liberating to show others our true selves, including how we really feel.
Initially, it may feel uncomfortable. Yet, it is important to practice identify and be aware of our discomforts instead of avoiding them. It takes mindful awareness. (LifeGuides is a great support in this area with many of our Guides having the experience to help members navigate it.)
3) Demonstrate acceptance and non-judgment. The word and the idea of “acceptance” is confusing. Our initial reaction is often one of uncomfortableness, which triggers us to “fix” how the person is feeling. This reaction sends the (unintended) message of judgment, non-acceptance, and that their true emotions are not safe to be shared. Instead, we can create a safe space, listen, and accept their feelings, their experiences.
Let’s be aware, let’s set a new intention!
The next time we ask how someone is, let’s be willing to hold space for however the person really is doing, really is feeling. And, if they respond with “I’m fine,” let’s dig deeper.
We need to be available for the other person’s fear, depression, anxiety, stress, grief - and also for their joys, prosperities, and wins. Otherwise, why even ask?
By Julia Rebecca M., LifeGuide, Growth, Purpose, Fulfillment
Outside of being a wonderful writer, Julia is a certified LifeGuide, Speaking Circles facilitator focused on listening skills, hospice volunteer, and Mindfulness practitioner.
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