A week ago I did an Instagram study to find out how many people answer honestly when someone asks how they’re really doing. It came out to about 30% of people responding honestly, and 70% of people not being honest. I proceeded to ask, “if you aren’t honest, why?” And “if you are honest, how has that helped or hurt you?” I was very interested in these answers and learned I needed to make some changes both on the asking and the answering side in my own life.
Most answers as to why people were not answering honestly were because they didn’t feel that the question was asked sincerely and because they were afraid to seem broken or vulnerable, especially when they felt others were dealing with worse feelings or situations.
So this made me think…do I mean it when I ask someone how they’re really doing? And am I prepared if they give me a real answer? Because if I’m not asking and genuinely wanting to know, why am I asking? And if they’re telling me they’re not ok, how am I going to handle that? How is my response going to impact them?
We can’t all be Joey Tribbiani and get by with…
I don’t want to go into this heavy, but it’s a real thing that needs to be given some weight. We should be sincerely checking on our friends, and I think we can do better at this. If we are asking how someone is doing just to be polite, then maybe we should find another mannerly greeting, and save the “how are you really’s” for serious conversations. People become accustomed to answering, “good,” “fine,” and “ok,” and then they can feel obligated to be ok even when they’re not.
It’s ok to not be ok.
It’s ok to not be ok and tell your friends the truth when they ask.
And here’s how I know. The people that said they answered honestly when asked how they were doing, they are here to tell about it. Their honesty, good or bad, didn’t knock them out of the game. They worked through their season of not being ok. They talked about it, and it wasn’t easy, but it was just a moment. It was light momentary affliction. And in that moment they saw the importance of opening up, laying it out, and letting someone else bear some of that weight with them.
So the next time you ask, “How are you doing?” make sure you’re prepared to really hear your people out and to lean into them. And the next time someone asks how you’re doing, tell them and give them the freedom to do the same!