“How are you?”
“Good. How are you?”
It’s true that I’m almost perfect. Really.
I’m being more honest than when I say “ok” or “good”.
I’ve also heard people give the depressing “Not bad” and “Can’t complain”.
The “How are you”s are part of the exchange of pleasantries. They’re supposed to be pleasant, right? Then why do we blow through them with a catch phrase? And then we stall, searching for something more tangible to talk about, like the weather, which will save a conversation, yes, but it will also make you want to check your cell phone for more stimulating conversation with faceless people.
I realize that the so-called pleasantries breakdown the walls we have built up. They slowly bring the conversation to more meaningful levels, so that we’re more comfortable.
Why is that?
Sure, our genes may be coded with the fear response to strangers. Strangers who may be from another tribe who want to kill me for my food, shelter, or women, but why continue the drive-by pleasantries today, especially in this country, where survival is pretty easy? Even in low-income areas, no one is starving.
Ok, so keep the superficial pleasantries…what’s next?
When we get to the more meaningful part, we circle around asking the “how” and “why” question and get neck-deep in the comfortable quicksand of what we did, where we went, or what someone else is doing. We might get to some feelings, like “It sucked.’ Or “It was awesome.” But when was the last time we asked a probing “Why?” follow up?
We’re conditioned to make the “How are you?” the start of the conversation, and it’s ok to make it a greeting. Hey, it’s the best greeting I can think of..It jumps right into YOU. But instead of it being the start of the conversation, I think it should be the conversation. Let’s keep the courage of our convictions and see how someone else feels. Maybe give each other a new perspective?
The “how”s and the “why”s are the reason we’re here: It makes up the dialgoue that enables us to connect with people and grow.
I think a good start to connecting is to take that greeting seriously.
How are YOU?