A lot of my job - as a communications professional, as a parent, as a friend - is reading between the lines. Or mores precisely, listening between the lines.
Often it's not the question that is asked, but the concerns behind the question that need to be addressed.
"What are you working on today?" might be mere small talk, or it could be a sonar ping: "Do you have time for me? Are you too busy to talk to me? Am I important to you?"
When you talk with clients, family and friends, do you hear them? Are you sure? Try focusing your full attention on them (not your work, not yourself, not the long to-do list that is calling your name), and think before you automatically respond to questions. Tip: Ask "Why do you ask?" or "What's troubling you about that?" then listen. You may have your ears - and your eyes - opened. I know I have.