Hi! How are you?

People say it all the time.

Someone I recently met expressed to me their frustration about this local (to North America, as far as I know) saying/custom/practice. It seems that often, this is said without actually wanting to know how a person is doing. Like, it’s just the thing you say and don’t really expect an answer other than “Fine, and you?” I felt totally on-board with this person’s assessment and thought to myself “I surely never do this”.

But then, in the weeks that passed, I noticed that I do.

More interestingly, I noticed that I do it when I’m uncomfortable or maybe more accurately, unsure, in some way and my “How are you?” becomes shorthand for, “I’m not sure what your energy is right now, and I’d like some kind of verbal indication so I can know how to proceed with this interaction”.

I think that since many people interpret this shorthand as a platitude, I should practice my way toward asking more completely for the information I’m after. I think another part of it is to practice reading non-verbal cues more accurately. And I think part of this practice must also include answering the question fully, when asked of me, if the context is appropriate. I’m not going to tell some random dude at work about my existential crisis, for example. But maybe I would say that I’m feeling on top of my game when it comes to my current projects at the office.

In which ways are you receptive to people’s inquisitiveness about how you are doing? Which approaches turn you away from sharing?

On this day:

in 2014 – Is this a date?
in 2007 – I’m really missing snow

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