20 questions to ask instead of ‘how are you?’ while social distancing

Fine. Good. Not bad. Busy. Great. They’re stock standard responses to the stock standard question.

‘How are you’ is a question most of us would ask when making a genuine enquiry as to someone’s wellbeing, and fairly so. But with the default ‘good, thanks’ taking preeminence, it’s unlikely to elicit a meaningful response.

Now, more than ever, we need to stay in touch with coworkers, friends, and loved ones. COVID-19 has left many of us cooped up in our homes, void of the social interaction we’re accustomed to on a daily basis. When your chatting on the phone with coworkers, hosting a virtual happy hour with friends or sending snail mail to your loved ones, try striking up a deeper conversation.

Ask a more meaningful question, and you’re more likely to get a more meaningful reply.

Psychotherapist Whitney Goodman suggests these alternative questions when asking someone close to you how they’re going:

  1. What is something interesting that happened today?
  2. Have there been any changes in how you’re feeling?
  3. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?
  4. What have you been reading/listening to/watching lately?
  5. What made you smile today?
  6. What would you like to be different tomorrow?
  7. How can I make your day easier right now?
  8. What has been hardest for you this week?
  9. When did you feel appreciated/understood/loved today?
  10. What has improved for you today?
  11. Is there anything you want to talk about from your day?
  12. What are you most excited for this week?
  13. What did you do to take care of yourself today?
  14. What do you wish you did a little less of today?
  15. What do you wish you did more of today?

These positive replacements found on Forbes can be subbed in at a networking event or around the office:

  1. What was the best part of your day?
  2. What work is most exciting you this week?
  3. What new ideas are giving you energy lately?
  4. What’s one thing you’ve learned recently that inspired you?
  5. What is one thing we could do right now to make this (day, project, event) even better?

We challenge you to turn to the person next to you and ask one of the above questions.