The ‘how are you’ conundrum

It was one of those days when nothing was going right, even the most trivial task of warming the soup in the microwave created an unthinkable mess. (Ofcourse, I forgot to cover it up!). I felt dispirited and I decided to indulge in retail therapy.  What better way to cheer up than a visit to the nearby mall!
While I strolled in the mall, a friendly looking stranger smiled and said, “How are you?” I was delighted to see a concerned face and as I opened my mouth to respond, he was gone. I was puzzled- he asked me a question but did not wait to hear an answer! I wanted to tell him about how I scraped my car while parking in the garage, and cut my finger while chopping vegetables and the grand finale of the splattered soup inside my microwave. Everything went wrong that day and this concerned soul just made it worse!
This incident inducted me to the era of social aloofness.

how are you?When someone says, ‘How are you?’ It is mostly a passerby greeting, and is not an indication that the person has interest in my state of being. However as in any other situation, I have freedom to choose my response to this question.

  • I can either respond by saying, ‘I am good’, with the same disinterest and continue with my life. Even when I do not feel great and my face looks kind of sad, the response to the outside stimuli is always ‘goooooooood!’ This is a quick mechanical answer to all the robotic greeters, as I do not have to look inside to find out about my feelings.IMG_9791
  • Or I can truthfully respond in fewest words possible- ‘tired’, ‘excited’, ‘bored’, ‘hungry’, ‘not well’. This kind of response keeps me honest and is an opportunity to engage in some real conversation . I choose this response when I gauge sincerity in the other person, and even if I falter in my people analysis skill, I can rejoice in the humor.  So, if I said ‘I feel sick today’, the robotic response would be ‘glad to hear that’. 🙂
  • And my third kind of response is to be happily indifferent to the question, when it is asked by the likes of the stranger who tend to disappear like a phantom. Being nonchalant saves me the awkwardness as I have learnt my lesson.

Do you have any ‘how are you’ experiences that you like to share?

Photo credit: mikerastiello / / CC BY-NC-ND

‘I am good’ photo credit : Yash Seth

One comment

  1. Yes, certainly we live in era of social aloofness despite multiple platforms of communication; biggest of them being social media. It is selfie era that we are living in, metaphorically it is self obsession where there is hardly any room for one to one dialogue and patience.


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