There were at least sixteen years of my life where my automatic answer to the question, “How are you doing?” was (either) “fine” or “good.”
Lately, I’ve veered into the more grammatically-correct, “Well. I’m doing well.”
Usually, it’s all a lie, though. Some of us, on particularly horrible days, will answer with a, “OK,” or, “It’s going.” And that’s as deep as it gets.
Once, when I waitressed at Red Lobster as a teenager, I asked a customer how he was doing. He sincerely answered my question, detailing the events of his debt, his sense of aging, his last birthday. The level of confusion I felt as he prolonged the required, 1-sentence answer? Unparalleled.
But I think about that still. What if we really wanted to know the answer to the question, “How are you doing?” What could we say? It’s such a broad, general question. Maybe part of it is, also, just asking a better question.
Here are 10 questions I often use with some of the toughest-to-crack people I know: teenagers. These are questions I also ask of adults. They throw people off their game a little. They evoke a laugh, a double-take. They often spark sincerity.
They’re worth trying out!
1. What’s the best or craziest thing that has happened to you lately?
2. What’s your mood right now?
3. What are you looking forward to?
4. What’s been the idea or situation that keeps coming up in your life, over and over?
5. On a scale of 1-10, how are you doing? What could make you a 10?
6. What’s the weather like inside you?
7. Is “good” really how you’re doing? (accompany this with a long silence; people sometimes just fill in the silences)
8. What’s the biggest thing on your mind right now?
9. If I gave you $20 right now, what would you do with it?
10. What’s the best question I can ask you right now?
Have fun, y’all!