Andrew Lang - The Wednesday 1-2-3

🙄 "How are you doing?": The Wednesday 1-2-3

Published 5 months ago • 2 min read

Happy Wednesday Reader!

Here's 1 teaching, 2 questions, and 3 resources to explore this week:

1. Teaching

One of my least favorite questions: “How are you doing?”

This question is part of the social fabric of our relational spaces here in the United States. It’s engrained in our cultural vernacular and our understanding of what it means to “connect” with one another. So, despite it being one of my least favorite questions, it's not like I never ask it – sometimes it just slips off the tongue.

But here’s why I don’t think it’s an appropriate question most of the time.

When this question is asked, the curiosity of the asker is rarely aligned with the depth the question invokes and the level of consent required to engage it.

To illustrate this, here are some common examples of how this question tends to show up.

  • Superficial greeting: a person asks “how you doing” as they walk past without slowing down.
  • Small talk: the question is introduced as a way to break the ice, but clearly without any desire, or the relationship required, for a deep or detailed response.
  • Forced depth: in attempting to connect deeply, a person asks this as if they are entitled to your story. It might be followed up with “but how are you really?”

None of these examples lead to actual depth or consent-based connection.

But what if you’re good friends or family with someone going through a hard time? A person who is deep in their own unique grieving process? What if you know someone who might really want a check-in with you?

Check the alignment of the situation:

  • Do you have a high level of genuine curiosity and care?
  • Is there time to engage this topic or experience with depth?
  • Are you offering a path to connection that includes a way out?

Grief Educator Mandy Capehart writes this for us:

“How are you doing?” can be pretty invasive. It presumes connection that I may not have. It assumes safety between us that may not be there.

We want to continually connect with grievers without pressuring them to open up before they’re ready. Crafting safety for them means recognizing we must honor their pacing and decision to speak up or play it close to the vest. No pressuring into connection or vulnerability.

So what can you say instead? Here are a few of my favorites.

✨ “Sending you love and space to share, if you’re up for it or need some connection."

✨ “I think of you often. If you’d ever like a space with me to unpack the mental load, I’m here."

✨ “I see how much you are carrying, and I’m available if you want to offload anything.”

✨ “I don’t want to assume how you’re doing, but I’m also not going to pressure you to open up. However you’re feeling is safe with me.”

And after you say whatever you want to say, you let the griever decide if they believe you or not. Let your actions lead you. If they’re not ready, that’s about them, but it may also help to self-reflect a bit and just ensure your words align with your actions and values.

[I have bolded key phrases to place emphasis on them.]

2. Questions

  1. In what situations do you default to "how are you doing?" What alternatives might you prepare and practice instead?
  2. If you're seeing friends and family this week for the holiday, what is the likelihood someone will ask you this question? How will you respond in a way that honors your autonomy and that relationship?

3. Resources

⏪ If you missed last week's email:

I shared five journaling practices that non-journalers might enjoy.

Sending you good vibes,


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Andrew Lang - The Wednesday 1-2-3

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