The famous “are you okay?” thrown as a polite phrase does not really require a response. Do you really want to take care of your loved ones? Here are 8 more questions to ask, according to one researcher, to get a more authentic answer.
Do you really know how your loved ones are doing? Your friends, your colleagues? Not sure… You regularly say “are you okay?” or “how are you?”, in a formal way, as we learn from a very young age, but this one doesn’t really expect a response…
“Are you okay?”, a question emptied of its meaning
The question is more a sign of politeness than a real way of inquiring about the state of health or mental health of a friend. However, according to happiness researcher Stéphanie Harrisson interviewed by CNBC, the key to a happy life with others lies in creating and maintaining deep and meaningful relationships.
A statement that resonates with our psychologist Johanna Rozenblum, member of our committee of experts, who prefers another version, that of “how do you feel”, much more anchored in compassion.
“When we ask someone “are you okay?”, a person who is suffering, who is encountering difficulties, or who is not comfortable expressing emotions will know how to avoid talking about themselves by responding with pragmatic way only “it’s okay, it’s a little busy this week but it will be better in a few days”, or the famous “are you okay and you?” which only sends the question back to the person you’re talking to. To try to do to understand to the other that we really care about their state, we must focus on “how do you feel?” the response will necessarily go to the side of emotions, of the state of mind of the moment.”
Good in his body, good in his head!
8 alternative questions to the classic “are you okay?”
The American researcher, who worked on the question to design The New Happy, a new philosophy of happiness, also offers 8 other questions to ask those close to you, to recreate the bond beyond useless chatter.
- “How are you, really?” Simply adding “really” indicates that you really want to know how the person is doing;
- “How are you doing at the moment?” which limits the question to the present moment. Use for example when in contact with someone who is facing major or prolonged challenges, such as loss, illness, unemployment or a break-up;
- “What’s been bothering you lately?” Some people find it easier to share thoughts than feelings. And may find in this question an offer of support;
- “If you were completely honest with me, how would you describe your feelings lately?” This formula allows you to give permission to someone to express their feelings about something. However, it is used more on important subjects such as the progress of a project at work, or an update in a relationship.
- “What is good for you and what is difficult for you?” The problem with “How are you?” is that it encourages only positive responses. But by approaching the question with nuance, the answer given is allowed in both directions.
- “What word would you use to describe your life right now?” Sometimes summarizing your experiences in a single word can spark deep thoughts. When you ask this question, you offer someone a new way to understand what they are experiencing.
- “Last time we spoke, you were dealing with a problem. How have things been lately?” Following up on something someone mentioned in the past, you say, “I see you and you matter to me.”
- “What question do you wish someone would ask you right now?” This question comes when you feel that the other person perhaps wants to say something, but does not know how to broach the subject. It can provide the space needed to talk about what is really happening.