Three harmless words. Which come with innocent meaning and no obvious agenda. These very words cross most people’s lips on a daily basis, and the phrase is used in many languages around the world. Three little words which form a seemingly simple question.
How are you? ¿Cómo estás? Ça va?
You probably say it and hear it several times a day. But the question is; do you mean it when you say it? Do you feel sincerity when people ask it?
If not – then it’s just small talk. And small talk does the world no good. Small talk is boring. Small talk doesn’t build or nourish relationships. It does have its place though. Sure – we can’t be deep and meaningful and all Aristotle-quoting 100% of the time. Sometimes we need to let loose and not give a shit. And that’s when small talk comes into play.
In between working out the meaning of life and pondering what ‘it’s all about’ I also like to watch Game of Thrones and chat about it hysterically with mates like it directly affects my life. I often like to watch 22 men chase after a rubber sphere on most weekends. Then watch grown men in studios discuss the very same event. With slow-motion replays and electronic pens. Sometimes we just need a filter from all the serious stuff. I call it ‘decompression.’
The problem is I believe we’ve gotten our ratio f***ed up. Instead of talking about, and listening to what matters the most while having a cheeky few small-minded distractions – we do the opposite. It’s ‘cheesy’ to want to better yourself and it’s a headache to think about the truth.
Let’s flip the switch.
You see, people are intuitive. They can sense insincerity and will respond in the same language. The language of bulls**t. So to put things in perspective when using this phrase with the agenda of small-talk, the conversation in reality is really going something like this:
Person A: “Hey. I don’t really give a f**k, or care, but I can’t think of anything else to say right now. So let’s just do this and fill in the silence. How are you?”
Person B: “Cheers, you worm. Now I’m going to have to think of a half-assed response to your fake question. Ummm, yeah I’m good. Honest. I’m really f****ng good. And now this is awkward. Thanks, Dickwad.”
It’s ok to remain silent. Silence is always better than bulls**t. A simple smile will suffice. Next time you ask someone ‘how are you,’ be it in person, online, or by text message (how retro) make sure you mean it. Make sure your ears are open and you’re not multi-tasking.
Give that person your time and energy.
Because one day, that person might not be ok. And you could be the person who makes them ok. Now go and play nicely. And don’t bother asking someone how they are because you’re too boring to say something else. Or because you think you have to. Say it because you mean it. Say it because you care. Say it because you God damn FEEL it.