I am all about being polite, I mean, I wasn’t raised by wild animals, but can we all admit that there is a social understanding associated with the question “How are you?” We say it to co-workers, we say it to strangers, and when you really think about it we say it more times a day then we realize. I am confident that a majority of the population knows the standard response to said statement “Good”, “Fine”, “I’m ok”…All quick, acceptable answers. This blissful interaction is what makes the world go round.
I was at work the other day and came face to face with one of the members of the small percentage of the population however that do not understand the underlying truth behind this statement. This is the type of person who actually answers the question truthfully. You know you have found one of these rare members of society when their answer starts something like, “Well (sigh), to be honest (deep breath)…” Fill in the blank with a positive/negative, issue, complaint, etc. Bottom line is: WE DON’T REALLY CARE HOW YOU ACTUALLY ARE. I have literally been mid-stride through the office cube farm throwing out my usual friendly “Hey Jane, How are you?” I am like a rapper making it rain in the club when it comes to smiles and niceties! This is business as usual until you are stopped in your tracks because SOMEONE failed to follow protocol. Now you have to turn around and entertain the conversation you never intended to start. This is torture. You had no concern behind your initial question and you probably did not have time to fit in a full blown conversation. These are conversations that take place over the phone or in expensive over-priced coffee shops with people you like, not on your way into the elevator. Most of the time we fake-like half our coworkers, tolerate the other half and maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky we find 1 or 2 people we work with that we would be generally concerned with how they feel, but those 2 would never tell you in passing because they are in tune with what that question means!!
So the next time this happens, stay calm, nod your head in fake concern and think about happy hour. But most importantly, remember to NEVER ask that person how they are again.