1. Do not allow yourself to give a pat answer to a friend who is asking you how you are doing. This would include responses such as “fine”, “good” and ” fine, how are you?” Many people have been taught that polite conversation is appropriate in all situations. Yes, it is good manners in general society, but when it comes to friendship, it sends the message that you are walled off.

2. Include some mention of how you are doing emotionally. ” Feeling words” will evoke a sense of opening up to the person on the receiving end of the response.

3. Answer in small paragraph form. For example, instead of replying with your standard ” fine, how are you? ” response you could respond by saying something like; ” I am really worn out emotionally and physically from staying up with sick children this week. The whole week has made me feel a bit POWERLESS.” A vulnerable word such as powerless will invite people who are safe into your vulnerable world.