So, I’ve got this friend Graham and he’s magical. For lots of different reasons, but especially including his incredible talent for making women cry.
Now, I recognise that that’s not something everyone wants to do, so, maybe that’s not the magical part…
Maybe the magical part is that the women almost always feel better afterwards. Feel… Reassured, welcomed, listened to, cared for. It’s pretty special. So many of us have to pay someone for that. A counsellor, a psychologist, a psychotherapist. Graham does it for free. And it’s an effective and beautiful gift.
What does he do that brings women to tears? Apart from being the friendliest, smiliest man ever? (There was this one time when he was sick on a group trip, and not smiling, and like, the whole dynamic of the group changed. It’s like the bottom fell out of everything. Graham unhappy. So weird!)
What he does, is that he sits down with you, looks at you and says, “how are you.”
Yup. That’s it. The question we all hear a bunch of times a day really. So why is it different when he asks?
It’s partly that he manages to communicate that he’s actually asking and actually wants to hear the answer. Think about it, when was the last time someone said “how are you” as more than just phat speech? The fill in speech we all say. The type of thing you can easily say at the same time and just laugh it off, cos it matters but doesn’t matter. Phat speech. When you accidentally say, “hihowareyou” at the same time.
It’s rare to be asked “how are you” and know the person wants the answer, whatever it is. Graham manages to convey to you that he does want the answer. AND, he’s happy to hear the answer however long it takes.
Graham is used to me, and probably used to people like me, which means he knows we’re used to being asked “how are you” but not used to having the answer welcomed or listened too. We’re hesitant at first when he asks us because it feels like actually the answer to that question could never end. And we know people don’t have time for that. They don’t actually have time to bother. We feel like we’ll be a hassle, so we don’t answer.
Or, we feel like the person asking won’t understand. Yes, we could tell them that bit and that bit, but not all the bits. We’re constantly self-editing. We have to. There are very few people who give us the time and safety to say how we actually are doing.
Which is why Graham is magic cos he manages to inspire the confidence so quickly, you believe him when he asks and you can tell from his body language and tone and everything that he’s not gonna push you, but he’s hearing. It really is pretty incredible. So many times, my heart has been lifted because Graham has said, “hey! How are you?!”
Now, with Graham, I know there’s more to it than that. Like I said, there’s the smilingness. And he gives great hugs. And he’s big and comfy and friendly, he’s the perfect, non-threatening listening post. Not all of us have those qualities. And not all of us do have have time all the time to ask all the people this. And that’s ok! But it’s certainly interesting to observe Graham’s magic in action and figure out what the rest of us can replicate.
I think the key thing is that it starts in the same place Graham starts, which is asking. And making it clear you’re asking seriously, and have the time to hear the answer and want to hear it.
I am so blessed to have Graham as a friend. He has lifted my heart many many times in many ways, but including lightening my load by asking “how are you”. I’m also even more lavishly blessed to have quite a few people in my life who, if they ask this question, I know that, like Graham, they want to know. But so many people don’t have that. For lots of reasons, they can be hesitant to actually tel someone. But also, for many of them, too few people actually ask.
How about we all try to use the magic of “how are you”? You might be amazed, surprised, dismayed, enlightened or amused by the response. But whatever the content, it’s a wonderful gift to someone.
Now just wait til I blog about Graham’s incredible wife Sarah!!
*disclaimer – I’m sure this has a pretty similar effect when Graham asks his many guy friends how they are as well , just maybe not the crying part? IDK. They might do that behind closed doors.