How are you?

You Are Important photo © Copyright by George Pagan III

One great habit I learnt this year last year, is from my close friend. I have got in touch with them after 17 years – a very long time for someone who’s my childhood class fellow and a close friend in Karachi where we lived to study, once.

Having chatted to him on WhatsApp, I noticed something profoundly different in the way a chat was started, day in and day out, the very same way, almost in a profound ‘new way’, one that feels forgotten in online chat, the three golden words:

“How are you?”

So right after السلام عليكم (which is the greetings of all Prophets of Allah) and much used by Muslims today, the next sentence has always been, ‘How are you?’

There may be other forms of the same greeting, said in many ways and languages, like in Urdu we would say, ‘Kia haal hain?’, which means the same. In real life, all of us are humble and polite enough to greet one another, still at times it’s simply for formal or casual use, to forward our conversations.

Online, life can be lonely, specially when people like me who live online find themselves opening new conversations more, reaching out people more and finding very few times when someone would actually begin a conversation that really feels close and caring.

The norm often, is to endure unwanted messaging on WhatsApp or other mediums and deal with them in one way or another. My earlier post Shut the WhatsTAP should be an interesting read on the subject. I prefer conversing with people more, rather than endure a continuous feed of what excites them in the form of unwelcome shares.

‘How are you?’, is a profound opening to any chat, any conversation and I’ve begun using this with everyone who I chat to – irrespective of what or how they open their conversations. If I speak to anyone, I try to say ‘How are you?’ when it’s my turn to speak.

This has been the case even when speaking to my clients on the phone or writing emails to them. I have felt that they respond in a welcome and friendly way. At times a simple ‘How are you?’ has started a pleasant conversation.

Asking someone how they were on a day that was going too well or too glum seems to be the kindest of greetings.

So, how are you? ❤️