By

How to Respond to “How Are You?”

When someone asks how you are, how do you respond? It’s a tough question when you have a life-altering illness — should you shrug it off with an “OK” and deny your own experience or be truthful and risk scaring off the other person?

My response varies depending on the person, how I feel in that moment, how much energy I have, and if I really want to get into it. It’s usually along the lines of “I’m still here,” “I’m alive,” “I’ve been better,” or “OK right now, though it’s been a rough week.” If I don’t want to talk about it, I immediately follow my response by turning the question around. Most people love to talk about what’s going on in their lives and are thrilled to have someone who is ready to listen.

100 Ways to Answer the Question “How Are You?” (PDF) is an excellent new resource from ChronicBabe that’ll help you answer that difficult question. There’s bound to be a suggestion that will help you no matter how you’re feeling on a particular day and how much you want to talk about.

I particularly like the section on authenticity where she points out that answering the question honestly can establish intimacy and trust, leading to a deeper connection between you and the people in your life and, thus, greater support. Need more encouragement to open up? Check out The Power and Strength of Vulnerability.

By

Doctor as Patient

In And Today is Another Day, physician and writer Richard Waltman chronicles his experiences as a cancer patient. Although our illnesses are different, the lessons of his journey are universal.

He also gives this important advice to other docs:

Now hear this: We are them and they are us. We get sick and we die. We want to talk about it, and we want you to listen. Extend your hand, make eye contact, and say something like this: ‘I’m sorry to hear your bad news. My thoughts and best wishes are with you.’”

[via Kevin, M.D.]