When someone greets you, like good morning – how are you, they don’t really want to know. I proved that this morning. Over the weekend I twisted my back, and it hurts, really bad. I am taking some pain pills to make me able to face the day, but they are slow to work and I was still hurting pretty bad this morning. My office mate comes in and asks me How Are You Doing today Lee, in that moment of silence I thought about saying FINE but the pain pills made me say OHH not so good, and I proceeded to tell him about my back ache. About 2 minutes into the conversation. I realized that his eyes have glazed over and he wasn’t really listening anymore. He was patiently waiting for me to say FINE.
Instead, I dove in head first, and said But you don’t really care about that, do you??? He actually started, his eyes got wide, he knew he had been caught. He started to say something but I cut him off and started a conversation on greetings and expectations.
Do we really want to hear how someone is really??? Do we really want a short, concise answer like FINE, or OK, or GREAT. We decided that yes that is exactly what we want. We want a small short answer to a very general question, we want to acknowledge your existence and give you the impression that we really care about you as a human being.
The sad part is that we really don’t care about how you are doing, we only care if you answer in a one or two-word sentence.
I goggled Greeting and How Are You Doing, wow there is a lot of web sites out there that talk about, what we are talking about here. It seems that people have made a career out of researching this subject. There are several ways to look at this… one we spend too much time on silly things or that some people have way too much time on your hands or that there is some serious ramifications of how this affects people. To be nice I think that I will go with the last one.
From the research that I did (at least 20 minutes) I found out that at one time in our history, greetings were very formal. If you didn’t know someone then you told them your name and what you did along with some sort of salutation such as how do you do? There were conventions on how to answer this question. Most of the time you ignored this question and gave the other person your name and occupation and just went on to the topic you wanted to discuss in the first place…
The second thing I found out is that predominately people don’t want to know, they want you to say “find and you?” I give credit here to Yahoo answers… great site.
Why did I blog about this?
I blogged about this because I intend to do some informal research on this. I will randomly answer this question with different people. I will keep track of the answer and reaction when I go into the long dissertation of how I am. After I am done I will tell them what I am doing (so they don’t get offended) and ask them their views on this. It should be an interesting experiment.