Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Feeling better? Don't ask.

I like to think of myself as being pretty mild-mannered.

I don't fly into a furious rage if someone cuts me up in traffic. I definitely don't throw a hissy fit when someone uses the last of the toilet roll without replacing it. And I only get slightly miffed (honest) when a telemarketer calls at an inappropriate moment (although, frankly, isn't any moment inappropriate when it comes to telemarketers?).

However, lest this should paint me as some paragon of patience, there does actually happen to be one scenario which makes me see red, in a furious, livid and really rather ashamed kind of way.

Maybe it's just me, but I do get disproportionately angry when, after I've been going through a bad time, someone who really ought to know me well asks 'Are you feeling better?'.

I shouldn't blame them of course. They've almost certainly said it innocently. Unfortunately, however, in the mind of the receiver this very innocent little question can translate itself into 'I'm really not sure there was anything terribly wrong with you anyway, but I'm assuming you're now over it'.

I know it's wrong in so many ways to interpret it in this way, but that's the danger of closed questions. They make assumptions. They discourage meaningful answers. And they make me cross.

So if you really want to know how I feel, please do the proper open-ended thing. Ask 'How are you feeling?', then you're more likely to get the truth from me.

It's good for us to connect with others, and the more we do it, the better we're likely to feel. It's crucial to remember, though, that good connection is just as much about quality as it is about quantity.

A good radio interviewer asks open-ended questions, rather than ones which solicit no more than one word answers, so perhaps today's a day to make like a broadcaster?

As for me, am I feeling better? Well I was until you asked me.