Why I Stopped Saying "How Are You Doing?" (Most Of The Time)
Imagine you walk into an event with a group of people. What's the first thing most people say?
"How are you doing?"
How does almost everyone always respond?
"Good, how about you?"
I don't know the origin of how this social interaction began, but this has essentially been morphed into a greeting activity. And, it's one of which I came to find two problems. First, I'm asking people how they are doing as a way to say hi and introduce myself. When we're asking, we're usually not actually interested to know how they're "really doing". Second, when people ask me how I'm doing, my instant reaction is to simply say good, how are you. In other words, we don't actually answer the question honestly and instead deflect the question back at them.
So, as part of my ongoing effort to become fully intentional with my beliefs, words, and actions, I decided I wouldn't just go with the cultural flow. I'd instead decide how I wanted to greet people, and how I want to respond to those who do ask the question (even when they didn't realize what they're asking).
After reflecting on how I wanted to greet people when I first saw them, I decided I would now simply say "It's good to see you." Pretty simple and nice. If I don't know them, I'll simply greet them with "good morning" or "good afternoon". I'm acknowledging them and allowing the conversation to go where it might. It's a small but more intentional approach.
If I'm actually interested to know how they are doing, I'll ask them, but usually, because of the cultural context of this phrases, I may ask it differently to prevent a knee-jerk response of "good".
If someone asks me "how are you doing?" I'll stop, reflect and give them an honest answer. If I'm stressed, happy, sad, or good, I'll tell them. In many of these cases, I'll verbalize that I'm taking a quick inventory to give them an honest answer, as they may wonder why I'm hesitating in my response.
While I'm often intentional with how I initiate or respond to these reactions, I'll still fall into the cultural norms because I forgot or wasn't paying attention.
Ultimately, our words matter and change how people respond and interact with us. The community is an enormous part of our life, so I've sought to make little improvements to make it better.
How about you? How intentional are you with your social interacting words and phrases?
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