Hapsari, my husband and I were just talking about this yesterday but from a different angle. We were saying how people say “How are you?” more as a greeting than an inquiry. They really don’t want to know how you are doing, especially if you are not doing well. If you answer with something like, “I had a really bad day and my back hurts and my car broke down”, the person who asked the question will run in the opposite direction or certainly not ask that question again, or maybe, not even hear what you are saying.

When I was married previously, my then-husband would always answer people who asked, “How are you?” with a list of his ailments. Soon, people were telling one another to never say that to him, even as a greeting, because he will spend 15 minutes telling you about his complaints.

Too often people ask how you are doing without really meaning it and without wanting a true reply. That is why we usually respond, “I’m okay” or “I’m fine” even when we aren’t.

It’s sad, really. Sad that we don’t really care what is going on with one another or don’t have the time to listen. I once had a huge problem and when someone asked me how I was, I replied with the truth, I told her about my problem. She didn’t hear a word I said! She just kept nodding her head and saying, “That’s nice” when I was telling her about a very bad situation I was in. She not only didn’t care but she didn’t listen. Since then, I’ve sometimes tested people by answering with some false horrible story to see their reaction — rarely do they hear what I am saying. I am telling them about something terrible in my life and they don’t hear my words. It’s as if I am saying everything is rainbows and cotton candy.

It’s strange that we say “How are you?” without meaning the words and if we answer truthfully to someone who asks, they often don’t hear our words.

I was always a writer but lived in a bookkeeper’s body before I found Medium and broke free — well, almost. Working to work less and write more.

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