Hi, How Are You?

image credit: jhocy.com
image credit: jhocy.com

Don’t ask me how I’m doing.

Really. Don’t.

On my best days it will make me roll my eyes and on my worst it could make me angry. I am tired of people asking me how I am in the hallway and walking past me before I have a chance to answer. I’m tired of “Hi, How are you?” being the standard greeting with an expected response of “fine” or “good” and nothing more. I’ve started giving odd answers as a social experiment akin to Robin Williams in Patch Adams to see if I could elicit a different response. Here’s some examples:

“Good morning, Kelly. How are you?”

“I miss my pet tyrannosaurus.”

or

“How did I get here? I must have been sleep walking.”

or the ever popular

“Meh.”

But don’t confuse my frustration over this ubiquitous question with me wanting to keep people at a distance. If anything, I want to invite them in more. I want to be able to answer honestly when life is good and I feel blessed beyond words and when I’m struggling and in need of hope to light my way. I want to be able to share when I feel overwhelmed with responsibilities and when I’ve had a huge personal victory and want to invite someone to share in my celebration. And none of that can be encompassed in one word while we pass in the hallway. I care about real speech, not scripted speech. I promise I won’t ask you how you are doing unless I have time to listen to the answer.

And I suppose I should amend my initial statement to read, “Don’t ask me how I’m doing… unless you really mean it.

So, how are you? Really. I’m all ears.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Funny – sometimes I miss this type of “southern hospitality” – if you were to say “Hi, how are you?” here on the West Coast you might likely get a response of laughter. Unless of course, you are walking your dog – you might actually get an answer to this question…

  2. I think it’s just a way of acknowledging that person instead of ignoring them. Like in France everyone says “Bonjour” to everyone – just a cultural habit.
    Unfortunately there often is not enough time to REALLY say how you are doing when passing people in hallways — people might be in a hurry to get to their appointment etc. I personally think it’s fine. I guess I don’t expect that type of encounter to be anything else than polite small talk.
    I am thankful for the folks who God puts in my life and when He allows the time in our schedules to REALLY talk about how we are doing. I figure there is a time and place for different types of relationships and conversations and I try not to have unrealistic expectations which usually leads to disappointments..

  3. I am blessed. I just spent the morning with my sisters at BSF going over the lesson for tomorrow. It’s a wonderful place to be!
    I care intensely how you are, so if you ever want to talk just call me. I am here for you!
    Much love.

  4. Friends! This has sparked some real conversation far deeper than “good” or “fine” and for that I am thankful!! First of all, know that this is my issue! It is something that I seek to be different about in my speech, but I fully own my frustration and, at times, poor responses. Truly, my largest complaint is with people who ask “How are you?” but don’t even allow a chance for response either because they are already past me in the hall or they just keep talking without allowing a pause for an answer. I understand politeness and small talk and have no issue with that! I talk with people in the mornings, but I choose to say “Good morning.” Or “have a good day” when I know I don’t have time to listen to how they are. Perhaps I would very much miss such southern hospitality if I lived somewhere without it! Thank you for caring enough about me and this topic to engage, push back, defend, and ask real questions. That makes my heart happy!!

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