Quote of the Week #25

Have you ever thought to wonder why it is that people greet each other with the phrase, “Hi, how are you?”

We seem to use this phrase–automatically and absentmindedly-– all the time, not really wanting to dedicate time to actually listen to what the person says, or not really caring what their answer is.


If we are out and about around other people we probably hear and utter this phrase dozens of time on any given day.

Has someone ever asked you this when you were having a terrible day, or when you got some tragic news or when things were going so far from smooth you felt seconds away from coming completely unglued? And yet, you answered “good,” and then move forward on auto-pilot?

Would you agree with me when I say it can be easy to lie about what’s going on inside, to put on a good front so that people see only what you want them to see? Some of us are such good actors! It’s so easy to just say, “Good,” and leave it at that, even if it isn’t true. This tactic is much less painful than opening up and sharing a fragile piece of yourself. And in reality, most people you encounter briefly do not want to help carry your burden as they have their own troubles that they are likely dealing with.

Everyone’s life is different. But everyone has their own share of troubles and challenges–something we need to remember before we jump to conclusions about the people we encounter in our daily lives. Is she driving slowly because she just learned her Father died? Is he irritated because he just got laid off at work and doesn’t know how he is going to tell his wife? Is she battling cancer, a terminal illness, depression, physical abuse, addiction…

There is so much going on in peoples’s heads and lives that we know nothing about!

I have made a conscious effort to avoid the empty phrase, “how are you?” Instead, I sometimes ask–but ONLY if I can look the person in the eye and have time to listen to the answer–“How’s your day going?” or “Are you having a good day yet?” or “Has anything interesting/exciting/memorable/awful/ happened to you today?” The people I ask these questions to sometimes look at me funny, sometimes suspiciously, like I have some ulterior motive. Sometimes they answer automatically–the same as they would the How are you question, with a simple good, not even realizing I have asked a different question. But sometimes, they smile and open up some, offering a little more than usual. Sometimes it starts a wonderful conversation at the end of which we are both left feeling a little happier. The effort is more than worth the good feeling it sometimes leaves me with.

And that brings me to this week’s quote:


Maybe today you can make a difference in someone’s life, just by asking a different question and then truly listening to the answer.

This entry was posted in For My Soul, Quote of the Week, Wisdom for your Wednesday and tagged , , , , .


  1. Bea Lothrop June 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Thank you! This post is so important in being truly “present” or recognizing our connection to all.
    In a similar vein I have been pondering (and doing my best to live this idea when meeting anyone) this quote from Philo of Alexandria….” Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
    Two days ago I was gifted by two ‘hummingbird moths’ drinking at my three clumps of Monarda in full bloom!!!!
    Happy Summer.

    • Sharon Mammoser June 23, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

      You are welcome! We do have a connection to all and we CAN make a difference. Sometimes all that’s needed is a kind word or gesture to turn a day around. I love your quote–it is so true–everyone IS fighting a great battle, we just aren’t usually aware of it. Glad you got to see hummingbird moths! Aren’t they perfectly named?

  2. Joe June 23, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

    So true so true. Once in a while you will see a person whom you may or may not know and the look in their eyes tells you that they are hurting deeply. When I see that, I disregard their rejoinder and ask ” Are you sure?”. And I try to reach out to them. Many times in my pediatric practice, the tears would suddenly flow and after the sobbing stopped, they would let me help them and take a share of their pain onto myself. It really made a difference for them.

    • Sharon Mammoser June 23, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

      I’m sure you were/are great at interpreting what people don’t say and what their body language says. It is not hard for all of us to be more aware and caring. I’m sure it really does make a difference! Thanks for sharing.

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  1. By Quote of the Week #70 on July 11, 2016 at 9:32 am

    […] are some other posts about this subject: why I try not to say“Hi, how are you?” some thoughts on having an “AHA moment” with a stranger, on the opinions of others, […]