I know a guy who constantly will say “How are you doing?” but he doesn’t really mean it. It is said in passing, and it is said all day long. I hate it. I hate it because it is meaningless and mindless. I hate it because it is a false way to connect. It is empty.
It rubs me the wrong way.
I had a boyfriend who would pet on my arm in a thoughtless manner. If he was distracted by something – say, the television, he would pet on my arm in a way to connect with me, but there was no connection. When he would pet on my arm in a thoughtless and mindless manner, it would actually hurt. It was scratchy. It was grating.
Like the zest coming off a lemon kind of grating.
It is right up there with people who say “How are you?” and they don’t wait for an answer. And if you answer, they don’t hear. There is a lot of that in working in customer service.
It is really bad in retail. When I worked at a fabric store, I would always ask the customer how they were doing, and sometimes they would answer. Rarely would they ask me. Once, after a long day, I started telling people how I was doing anyway. That really messed with their minds. I’d chime up “And I’m fine too, thanks!” and they’d look at me like I was crazy. I’d gotten the script wrong, as far as they could tell. They hadn’t asked me how I was doing, and I was telling them anyway. As far as I could tell, they were the ones who had gotten the script wrong. If someone asks you how you are doing, you are supposed to reply and then ask them how they are doing.
Part of it isn’t just the asking, it is actually waiting for an answer. It is looking the other person in the eyes and actually caring.
Now, maybe that is a bit intense. Maybe people don’t do that because they don’t really want to hear the answer. Maybe they don’t really care. Then they need to stop going through the motions.
If you don’t mean it, don’t do it. If you do it, do it like you mean it. Whatever it is.
I think our world has become less connected these days. Cell phones and email and instant messaging and Facebook and Twitter and texting don’t seem to be doing what they were intended to do. We can communicate faster, but not better. We are interacting with our devices and not with people. We seem to be actually retreating further into ourselves the more information that keeps coming in.