Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"How are you?" - Do people really care?

I read an article on CNBC.com and it was on seven tactics successful people use when having a meaningful conversation.  Sure it talks about the work and workplace related scenarios, but it can be applied to everyday life.  The one thing that stood out is that "how are you" is meaningless and people more often than not don't care.  Do you see this as being true?  Or do you genuinely care?

If you really don't care, why are you asking?  Is it because we have been told or even programmed to ask this?  I can't bring myself to ask this.  It could be because you get the run of the mill responses such as good, okay, not bad, etc..  It is true, the article says when you get these typical responses, they are not truthful responses.  People don't ask open ended questions to generate a response that will lead to small talk or a conversation.

In a sermon years ago, they said we don't bother to engage and really take an interest in someone.  When asked "how are you," we, as I said, give the typical responses and nothing more.  If you really want to talk to talk and engage with someone, stop asking how are you.  If you want an honest answer, we do need to move away from "how are you."

How many times have you been genuinely wanting to know how someone is and you don't get anything more than "good" or "fine?"  Sometimes when I see certain people, they ask about my health or various things.  They could genuinely care or they could just be making small talk.  It is okay to do both.  But small talk about myself, health, my life, etc. is hard to do for me.  I can talk about other things, but that kind of talk can be hard.

My buddy Mark says he asks "how was your day?"  That is a good way to try and get more than the usual "good," "fine," or "okay" type responses.  I hardly hear nor am I asked that.  It is always "how are you."  I always fall back on the typical responses.

If I didn't fall back on the typical responses, I would actually give people an in-depth answer.  At work I see people asking "how are you."  They are just passing by and acknowledge people they know.  But there are lots of times I see people asking "how are you" and it turns into a longer conversation.

When asked "how are you," we are not usually honest regardless if the person cares or not.  I read somewhere that we don't want to be honest because we don't feel comfortable telling them.  I feel that way.  Should I be more open and honest in that regard when talking one-on-one with someone or making small talk?  I am fine doing that with friends and people I am close with, but with others, I am not the most comfortable doing that with them.

Should we ditch "how are you?"  Or do we need to genuinely care?  I get it, we don't always want to listen to people go on about every little thing.  But it can be hard to discern whether they want to know or just asking it as it is commonplace to do so.  If you don't care, don't ask it.  Seems pretty simple.  I have a hard time asking "how are you."  I don't want to say it because I have to.  I want to say it because I want to.  We don't have to say it because society dictates we should.

"How are you" will always be used whether people care or not.  I doubt something else to replace it will be thought of.