This week I was in the waiting room of a doctor’s office while accompanying friends to their appointments. I had my iPad with me so I could keep myself occupied.
While I was playing some games and checking Facebook, I would frequently hear the nurse come out and call someone’s name. Then the nurse would say, How are you today? Everyone responded fine, great, OK or awesome.
After some time of listening to this taking place with various people, I began to chuckle. Everyone in the waiting room had some sort of issue or they would not be there! You could hear them cough, sneeze, complain to their companion of this pain or that hurt. The conversations were all centered on their health. But when the nurse came out and greeted them, everyone said fine, great, OK or awesome.
This got me thinking about how we respond to people when they ask us, How are you? Often times we say, Fine. But when we honestly respond, it is amazing how we catch others off guard and they don’t always know how to respond to an honest answer!
It is worth trying this out with others. “So how are you?” “Not so well today.” And we find the other person responding, “Oh that’s great!” This happens because we are conditioned to respond in a certain way.
Communication happens all the time. Sometimes it is positive and sometimes it is negative. The important part of communication is our ability to listen to others and not anticipate their response. Sometimes we are conditioned to hear an answer because of who the person is and we do not allow the words of the other person to sink in.
All this pondering about the question - how are you? - got me thinking about how we approach God in prayer. We don’t want to seem like we are complaining all the time but we can find ourselves saying, Lord, please help me with this person as she is trying my patience. Or, God why is this or that happening to me right now in my life?
During this season of thanksgiving, let us pause and listen to the responses of others and of God in our lives. May we be more attentive to the question, How are you? And may we be more attentive to how we respond this to question. Communication is about both speaking and listening.
Have you ever given this any thought? Please share your experiences and insights about this with us.