I read a great article today by behavioral psychologist Elizabeth Weingarten about asking alternative questions to “how are you?” Several people have commented to me in the past week that they find the question “how are you” rote and that people are tuned out to it.
That’s not been my experience, as I do believe people respond to the sincerity of how you ask, not just the words.
Nonetheless, I’ve included the questions she asked because I found them interesting and worthwhile. Please keep checking in with people – whether you use her questions or stick with “how are you?” People need to connect right now, and they’re waiting for you to ask.
- How are you taking care of yourself today?
- What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?
- What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (besides toilet paper)?
- What’s a story – from a book, a movie, an article, a conversation – that you’ve been gripped by recently? Why did it capture you?
- What habit have you started, or broken during the quarantine?
- Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
- What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
- What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
- What’s something you own that feels useful?
- What is your COVID-19 nickname/alter-ego?
- What problem – either yours, or something more global – do you wish you could solve?
- What’s something you miss that surprises you? What’s something you don’t miss that surprises you?
- Which member of your family/friend group have you been thinking about the most during this time? Why?
- What’s the most generous act you’ve seen recently?
- What’s the last thing you experienced that made you laugh, or cry?
- What times of the day or the week are the hardest?
- What’s giving you hope right now?
- What’s the best thing that happened to you today?
- How do you want this experience to change you? How do you think it will?
- What do you hope we all learn or take away from this experience?