20+ ways to check in without saying "How are you?"

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by someone asking, “How are you?” or “How are things?”

Have you ever asked these questions to a friend, family member or colleague when you know they are struggling? You know the answer is that they aren't doing well but you are unsure of what else to ask or how else to check in.

When asked this question, we often respond quickly with, “I’m good!”, whether it is true or not. It's a habit of our society to do so.

Amidst the pandemic, when things genuinely feel heavy and when the world is experiencing such collective grief, saying “I’m good!” just doesn’t feel right to exclaim anymore.

So rather than sticking with our usual empty and meaningless question of “How are you?”, try asking one of the following to truly check in on the people in your life:

  1. What was a moment that brought you joy today?

  2. How did you find stillness today?

  3. What was the best thing you tasted today?

  4. What was something that made you smile or laugh today?

  5. Have you eaten yet today?

  6. Did you drink water today?

  7. Is there anything I can do to brighten your day?

  8. What was the highlight of your day?

  9. What was something small that you accomplished today?

  10. What’s one word/adjective you would use to describe today?

  11. Were you able to do something for yourself today?

  12. If you could describe your day in a song, what would it be?

  13. Have you gone outside for some fresh air today?

  14. If your day was a color, what color would it be?

  15. How did you sleep last night?

  16. What flavor of ice cream are you today?

  17. Without words, describe your day using only emojis.

  18. Is there any way I can support you right now?

  19. How do you plan to recharge today?

  20. Tell me about something you saw on a walk recently.

  21. Describe one thing in your space that makes you happy when you see it.

  22. What are you doing for self care these days?

It’s funny, “How are you” can be this meaningless, open-ended question shared between coworkers or someone you run into on the go; it can also be a question that you ask a close friend or family member when you know the answer they give won’t be a reflection of how they feel.

The ways in which we ask our friends, family, coworkers, colleagues, etc., how they are doing can be a simple way of showing empathy and welcome vulnerability. When we welcome others to share a part of their day in more meaningful ways, it allows for reflection and helps us all to feel less alone.

Remember to check on your strongest friends because they might be struggling too.

The question "how are you?" holds so much more weight today than it did prior to the pandemic. So try out some of these ways to check in with your people instead.

Together let’s go deeper -- Let's show up for each other.

By being more vulnerable we allow for more compassionate interactions with each other.

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