“How’s it going?” How many times a day do you get asked this or a similar question? I appreciate when people ask me this. But lately, my response has started to bug me.
Why is that, you ask?
Not long ago someone asked me how I was doing and I responded, as I always do by saying, “I’m good, thanks.” But the truth was, I felt like crap. It was probably the flu or something similar. Regardless, it didn’t seem socially acceptable to say how I really felt. Why burden someone with my problem, or put someone in a position where they have to think of an empathetic response? The default, “I’m good” I provided seemed like the best way to keep the exchange light.
When I noticed myself doing it again a few days later, it really got to me. I started to realize that, like everyone else, the degree of how it is “going” can vary based on the time of day, day of the week and even what I was doing or thinking about at the moment. I think my response in that situation was, “I’m great, how about you?” What bothered me the most was that I immediately recognized I was not being honest….or at least not being authentic.
What to do?
I am certain that it will be nearly impossible to come up with enough response variations to adequately convey how I am really feeling at every given moment. It seems to me that responses such as, “I’m feeling rather melancholy,” or to borrow a response from Anne of Green Gables, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” would just push people over the edge. Such authenticity might entrap whomever offers a gesture into a conversation they are not prepared to see through. In fact, I can even envision people ducking behind their desks as I walk by, hoping to avoid an awkward moment.
Since these types of responses are not practical or smart, perhaps there’s another way. For example, rather than actually stating how I “am” at the moment, my response could be to state what is on my plate or on my mind.
It could go something like this –
Him/Her: “How are you doing?”
Me: “I’ve got a really busy day, but am looking forward to the meeting at 10.”
That response is both real and untangled. It also doesn’t require me to memorize a bunch of possible responses, yet it is straightforward and direct. I’m going to try this. Will you?