We don’t often want the answer to that question when we ask it, do we? Somebody calls you, or you see someone in the elevator, or in a public or social or work situation in which you don’t really expect them to give you a real answer, but instinctively you ask, “How’s it going?” If they did start to answer the question, you might be shocked, because we mostly expect to hear something like, “I’m great,” or “Busy,” or “I’m glad it’s Friday.” Once given the pat answer, we can move on to our agenda.
Imagine if you were walking to your car this morning at the same time as your neighbor, and you smiled and asked, “Hey there, what’s going on?” If that happened, you would expect a simple response like, “Heading off to work like you…take care,” or something similar.
Let your imagination run a little bit. What if they said, “Well, I’m glad you asked. My husband and I had a huge fight last night about the kids, my mom got bad news from the doctor, I’m late again to work and I think my boss might be looking to fire me, and well, since you asked…” You’d get in your car, call the realtor to list your house for sale, and sneak in and out of your house when you knew you wouldn’t encounter that person again until the movers came.
It’s rare that when we ask how someone is doing, or when we are being asked how we are doing, that either party has the time, or feels compelled or safe enough to actually want to hear the answer. We do a lot of asking questions we hope don’t get answered.
When you have the time; when you feel compelled; when you’re in a safe and trusting environment; when you are near someone who cares – or whom you care about, make sure you take advantage of the question. The answers can lead you down an endless path of meaningful interaction and discovery.
A simple “How you doing?” can lead to amazing places.
With that in mind, here are a few movie quotes on the topic:
“I’d say, ‘Go on,’ but I’m afraid you will.” Bryan Cranston in Trumbo
“Please don’t’ interrupt me when I’m asking rhetorical questions.” Laurence Fishburne in Mission Impossible III
“Of course we communicate. Now can we not talk about it anymore?” Amanda Peet in Melinda and Melinda
“You can’t handle the truth!” Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men