View Full Version : How do you define a simple question?


JayOrmaru
05-07-16, 02:08 PM
For me, communicating with others feels like a foreigner asking for directions in incomprehensible english. Knowing what I want yet not the words to put it in. This stems from how I read a simple question such as, "how are you?" I often tell people what they want to hear, since questions like these are more courtesy rather than intrigue. They're really meant to establish ground for further communication and establish their existence and friendly demeanor. In my head, the statement I hear is actually "Hello, here I am."

I certainly have no qualm with the question "How are you?" as it is a plausible response when meeting someone new, despite it lacking any real substance in terms of establishing character. What puzzles me is the response that follows, or if any response is required at all. When I hear the phrase, "how are you?" what I really want to know is, are you establishing that you exist? Do you honestly want to know how I feel? <-(This is rarely the case) Are you simply telling me that you are a friendly person? Very well, I acknowledge that. What are you looking for in my response?

All of these things become relevant to me as I dissect what it is they are discern about me. Most often my favorite response is, I don't know. "How am I" could refer to the outcome of the events that day, the current state of my mental and physical well-being, or what kind of person I am in a summarized response. This is also why I often don't know how I really am to begin with. I really would like to know how I am, but I am not sure what correct response that would be. Now I really don't know who I am, all because of a simple little question.

Have any of you struggled with this?

Little Nut
05-07-16, 03:17 PM
What is a simple question?

Well for starters I don't think that is a simple question. Off the top of my head; A question that is easily understood by most people and their understanding matches the poser's understanding of the question.

weaselish
05-18-16, 09:50 PM
A simple question is a type of question I can't seem to put together in my head. :D Ever.

Have you read any semiotics/communication stuffs?
Even saying "I don't know" is conveying some meaning about yourself to the other person. You have to answer it in some way, or willingly ignore it and not answer, and any way you answer or don't answer will tell them something about you.

Then again, they might not have cared how you felt and were doing it for other reasons like manners, self-protection (very rarely I do it if someone seems suspicious, intimidating, etc. and I want to mark myself as "friendly/open" but not unaware)...lots of reasons. Testing their voice, heh. In my experience, a funny anecdote, remark, or story is always appreciated but not expected. Sounds like you are already overwhelmed just by the processing of a stranger's voice (this is where I have problems with auditory things) and that even answering by that route would be too stressful. So don't! I can only handle so much stress, and honestly, I don't want to hear if someone had their child taken from them, is fighting cancer a third time, is on their way to visit a sick parent in the ER, has tens of thousands of dollars of student loan or mortgage debt, has been constipated 9 days...

To me, "hi, how are you" is simple, but quite effective.

KarmanMonkey
05-19-16, 09:23 AM
There is no universal rule for the simple question. "How are you?" might be a simple question for one person to answer, while for the next person it's an existential question that rips to the core of their being.

Simplicity is defined by the person hearing the question, not the one asking it.

As for answering the "How are you?" question, if you don't know how to answer it, just pick another question at random to answer:

"How are you?" -> "3:15"
"How are you?" -> "Well, you see, when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much..." (Taking the implied extra word "feeling" out of the question)

Fuzzy12
05-19-16, 09:34 AM
This stems from how I read a simple question such as, "how are you?" I often tell people what they want to hear, since questions like these are more courtesy rather than intrigue. They're really meant to establish ground for further communication and establish their existence and friendly demeanor. In my head, the statement I hear is actually "Hello, here I am."



Yes, I think, that's it. It's just courtesy and a way of opening up communication. Still.. I'm often tempted to tell people how I really am but that would probably put an end to any communication very quickly....

I think, it also depends on who is asking. If an acquaintance asks, they wouldn't expect anything but a simple "I'm fine, how are you?" answer but if a friend or family member asks they might actually want to know how you really are.

What still throws me is the British "Are you all right? Or rather "aw eyt?" I usually answer it the same way I'd answer a casual "how are you?" but I suspect it's meant more like a "how do you do". I've asked a few people but I can never remember their answers. :scratch:

kilted_scotsman
05-19-16, 10:48 AM
These interactions are "ritual" they mark the change form non-interaction to interaction.

In computer terms they're like a "ping"... a message sent to see if the recipient is responding.

This type of stuff is called "Time Structuring". Every culture/subculture/family has it's own set of interactions/question->answer calls that indicate what level of interaction the individuals are at.

It's worth checking this out.... I've found it useful. THe classic Time structuring has 6 levels of interaction.... with the amount of intimacy increasing as one goes up the levels. however moving up the levels is also asociated with an increase in risk to the relationship.

The six levels are: withdrawal->ritual->past-timing->activity->games*->intimacy.
(*Games has a specific meaning in this context.)

I feel that there's another level... "play" which is around the same point as games.

It would make an enormous difference to our lives if we were taught this stuff early in our lives.... it's one of those things that's basic to human interaction... and is understood at a subconscious level by most people.... however it's something that AS people often don't understand..... hence the responding literally to ritual questions.

aeon
05-19-16, 12:13 PM
http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/time-structuring

sarahsweets
05-20-16, 04:23 AM
I believe simple questions are specific.
Do you like chocolate cake or vanilla cake?
Any other type of questions are always complicated imo.

KarmanMonkey
05-20-16, 10:14 AM
I believe simple questions are specific.
Do you like chocolate cake or vanilla cake?
Any other type of questions are always complicated imo.

Even your question could be complicated, depending on the person and/or profession...

I generally go for a good chocolate cake over a good vanilla cake, but I'd rather have a mediocre vanilla cake than a mediocre chocolate one.

If someone's a pastry chef they might find that a rather complicated question, as their decision might be affected by their production of the cake and not simply the consumption.

Sorry if I'm being... well... Just felt the urge to be a bit of a smartass this morning. :rolleyes:

stef
05-20-16, 10:34 AM
Even your question could be complicated, depending on the person and/or profession...

I generally go for a good chocolate cake over a good vanilla cake, but I'd rather have a mediocre vanilla cake than a mediocre chocolate one.

If someone's a pastry chef they might find that a rather complicated question, as their decision might be affected by their production of the cake and not simply the consumption.

Sorry if I'm being... well... Just felt the urge to be a bit of a smartass this morning. :rolleyes:

actually the simple questions confuse me
chocolate or vanilla cake?
does that include yellow cake?
what kind of frosting? (because given the choice I would have yellow cake with chocolate frosting over chocolate with chocolate...)
what about German chocolate? bundt cake.
Marble cake!

so yeah, anyway I really have a problem answering the simple "how are you"?