I answer the telephone and direct callers to different departments for my job. The phrase I use when answering is ‘Good morning/afternoon, how may I direct your call?” Most people just answer my question and I can direct them quickly and efficiently. Occasionally, I get someone who asks me “How are you?” To which I answer: “I’m doing well, thank you. How may I direct your call?” That way I can keep the calls flowing. However, I sometimes get someone who asks me “How are you?” and then goes right on into their question. Not even waiting for me to even respond.
It really made me think about how flippantly that this phrase is used and thrown out. When someone asks “How are you?” and doesn’t even wait for your answer, it comes across as a cheap greeting. I always wonder whey they even bothered asking, when they obviously don’t care.
Then there is the generic response of “Fine”, “Good” or “Well”. I totally admit I use those terms when I don’t want to share with someone how I’m really doing. Most people are shocked and feel uncomfortable when they ask “How are you?” and someone gives them more than a one word answer. When they are being actually honest with how they really are doing.