As I entered the base Saturday morning for my Unit Training Assembly, the polite security forces Airman on duty said, “How are you?” As he checked my ID card, I replied, “I’m doing well, thank you. How are you?” Before I had finished my reply, he said, “Thank you. Have a nice day,” and directed his attention to the next vehicle coming toward the gate.
I realize it was a busy morning for him, but I wondered why he had asked the question if he really didn’t care to hear the answer. And, more importantly, why had I given the expected response and asked the same back to him? Was it habit; a conditioned reflex like Pavlov’s dog? He could have just given me a simple greeting or said nothing, and I could have not answered nor asked the same back to him. He would not have noticed.
The more I thought about what had just occurred, the more I realized that these three little words can have such an impact on a life, depending on whether they make a difference to the person saying them or to the person hearing them.
A good wingman should be sincere when asking the question, “How are you?” A good wingman should wait for the answer and make sure it isn’t just a learned response, but instead the truth about how that member is making it through the day or how that person is doing in life in general.
Listening is a skill that takes time, which is a precious commodity in these days of getting everything done yesterday. I agree that our time is precious. We may not have the luxury of getting into a conversation with someone about details that may be causing him or her stress. But, we should take from our Wingman concept and make sure to follow through when we ask the question.
We are given the same amount of time as our forefathers were, but with the increase of technology, there has been a decrease in the time used for human interaction.
As a society, we have turned many in our younger generations into texting fools, without the ability to listen to others or express their own feelings without the use of their thumbs. People have become more isolated, not having to converse with each other.
In today’s society, one can go through school, even college, without ever stepping a foot into a traditional classroom; one can attend church services online, missing an essential purpose of the services—fellowship.
We’ve become a society where many of its members are cocooned and separated from each other. How many times have you called a company only to be sent through the ringer of, “for yada yada, push one; for blah blah, push 2…?” Have you ever just wanted to talk to a real, live person?
Sometimes I just need a hug.
Caring and compassion take commitment, especially in these stressful times of doing more with less. It all points back to the timeless, Golden Rule that I heard as a child; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat others the way you want to be treated.
With that in mind, ask yourself if your wingman is well physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually? Let’s start by asking the question sincerely or not at all. How are you?
If we ask, “How are you?” let’s carefully listen to the response. Don’t let it go if the reply is the standard, “Fine.” but instead, ask again, “How are you really?” You may be surprised by the answer.
Let’s continue by knowing our own physical, emotional, social and spiritual status. By knowing ourselves better, we are more able to answer the question honestly when it is asked of us. If the person asking the question to you talks over you, give them a copy of this commentary.
There are many resources available for us to share and draw from in order to help someone or help ourselves, such as our very own Frank Pavone at 951-655-4551. March also has a 24/7 Crisis Reporting Line at 951-655-7272 Other resources are the Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247, Military One Source at 800-342-9647 and the Wingman Toolkit at 800-273-TALK or AFRC.WingmanToolkit.org. Tell us how you are at facebook.com/TeamMarch.