Authenticity & Aliveness in Greetings
The standard greeting, "How are you?" if heard literally, leaves you in the unpleasant position of evaluating yourself. You might dread your own lifeless responses; good, fine, okay, alright. You are also often unsure if the questioner really wants to know anyway. You wonder, are they just being polite? Or, do they want to hear from you? If so, how much and what do they want to hear?
Rather than guessing their intention and giving pat answers, you can easily check for their true intention and stay with your own aliveness rather than evaluate yourself. First, by just pausing for one breath after someone asks, "How are you?" You find out if they were using that as a habitual greeting or were really curious. If it was a greeting, they will move ahead with the conversation regardless of whether you answer or not. If they were really asking about you and looking for connection, your silent pause will cue them to make eye contact and look for your response.
Once you receive this indication of their true interest you can check in with what's alive for you in the moment rather than evaluate your state. For example, you might share something like, "I just had a fun bike ride." Or "Feeling a little slow this morning." Or "So happy to see the sun is out today." Or "My attention is on a house project today." You can share something simple that's true for you in the moment to invite connection and see where the conversation goes.
If you would like more authentic and alive greetings, you can substitute "How are you?" with more connecting questions like: "What's up for you?" "What's alive for you?" "What's happening in your day today?" "What's going on in your world?" "Any celebrations to share?" "Any needs up for you?" "Is there anything I can hold with you?" "Do you have any requests?" "How are you feeling today?"
You can also reveal your true curiosity in another, regardless of the words you use, by allowing a pause after you ask a question. Allowing for silence gives the other person time to notice what's really true for them. When you rush to fill the space with your own free floating thoughts or more questions, the conversation tends to stay at a superficial level. The silence in between supports each of you in staying grounded in what's authentic and exploring that more.
This week practice with taking one silent breath before answering "how are you?" If you decide to answer, share something that is true for you in the moment.