My brain whirls into gear. I start to try and cross reference a whole load of information to try and get the correct answer.
Firstly, what context is this question being asked?
Is it a quick social meeting situation were I'm supposed to say, "yes I'm fine how are you?"
Then comment on further meaningless statements such as the classic, "so enjoying the sunny weather" (statement followed by a smile). In this situation you are not being asked for anything greater than a positive memory of a 5 minute meeting that enhances your bond of care for the person involved.
Then there's the mid level, "how are you?"
This is usually someone who knows you and is genuinely interested but only 20cms into your world not the full measure. You have to remember to give what I call 'topic titles' but don't unpack the topic.
Then there's the not equal "how are you?"
This is perhaps one of the easiest as the person usually always works in this pattern every time you see them you just have to identify it. They ask how are you?, I give a quick summary of a few bits of personal information and then ask "how are you?". That the rest of the meeting sorted and you spend a few hours identifying and solving problem patterns in the persons surrounding environment.
Then there's the echo.
This person works by echoing. It's almost a tit for tat "how are you?" "How are you?". How's work? How's your work. This only requires one piece of information replies, any expansion on a one sentence reply will be ignored and another question asked until the prescribed 'set' of questions have been asked and the person is fulfilled.
Then there's those who can get nerdy, deep, and are what I call fellow pattern thinkers.
Carwen how are u? Six hours later all subjects covered from both our lives it's 3am and everyone's in bed. You say goodbye knowing you have offloaded up loaded pondered and perceived and are fulfilled, with every topic unpacked repacked cross-referenced and logged. Sleep is deep and content.
Then theres double question bonanza.
"Carwen how are you? Did you see that program last night?"
Wrong wrong wrong, that's two questions, neither of which you are going to answer as by the time you have separated and categorised the information it is to late and the conversation had moved on so I'm left on the back foot trying to work out what is now being said.
Then there's the well intended but can't cope so get cut of with no resolution "how are you?"
- " I'm worried about X"
- "Don't worry it will be alright this time next week?"
- "You've been here before you'll be ok?"
These are the hardest and the quickest to learn not to be vulnerable with as they don't understand that it's really hard to ask for anything.
- "How are you?"
- "I'm so excited about X"
- "That's lovely"
These are just a few of the thoughts racing round my head as I'm asked "how are you?"
They are of course all thinking about the other person. There is of course where I'm at.
- Am I busy?
- Do I have time?
- Do I want to risk getting the answer wrong?
- Have I enough energy to get my words in the right order?
- How are my voices behaving?
- Are my voices shouting something different to what I want to say?
- Can I be bothered to talk at all as I'm not alright but know it needs to wait till I see my therapist?
- Should I put all mental stress to one side and blar blar blar????
And don't get me started on the complexity of group conversations!!!!!
"Carwen how are you?"
I stare blankly exhausted, "I'm ok". End of conversation