As I was walking into the grocery store the other day I saw a friend of mine.
He smiled and said, “How are you?”
I had a lot on my mind at that moment and I proceeded to tell him how I was doing. When I looked up, I could see the look of horror on his face. Clearly I had violated appropriate social etiquette.
“How are you?” is a simple multiple choice question for which there are only two appropriate answers.
Anything else is a breach of “said” social contract which we all unwittingly agree to, in order to function in our complex society.
So does anyone really care how anyone else is? Possibly, but that’s yet to be determined.
So let’s look at three possible scenarios for why this kind of interaction is taking place across the nation on a regular basis.
1. We truly don’t care about other people because we’re too wrapped up in our own little world.
2. We constantly feel like we’re rushing, so we don’t feel like we have the time to really care.
3. We’ve forgotten how to listen. Or we never learned how to listen. Or listening makes us uncomfortable.
I try hard not to fall into any of these camps, but if I do it would be the second camp. I’m overwhelmed with everything I feel I need to do. But much of it is self-imposed. Do I really need to check my email while my wife is trying to talk to me? Or cut the lawn instead of playing with my kids? Or just let time determine my interactions?
As for Guys in general, we are often accused of being in the third camp. Of course being a Guy, I feel like this is totally unfair. Yes, we’re easily distracted, but we do know how to listen, we just need to be interested in the topic at hand. But that’s not really being a good listener is it? It really shouldn’t matter what the topic is. Lending an ear to someone is about getting beyond yourself. The Guys are working on it!
In what camp do you fall if any?
So having said all of that, sometimes I just don’t want to DEAL. So I’ve begun to devise a system that might help us all deal a little easier. It’s pretty easy. Body parts symbolize certain things. You just nod and point. I’ll give you a few examples.
The Easy Way Out: How to not say, “How are you?”
Nod and put finger to mouth: This means I’m good, but I’m hungry. Stay away or you might get bitten.
Nod and point to crotch: This means I need to find a bathroom quickly, so no time to chat.
Nod and stick hands in armpits: Get back for your own protection. I haven’t showered.
Any other suggestions are welcome!
One thing my system makes very clear. You know if you walk by me and I say, “How are you?” I actually really want you to answer…..truthfully!!
“ONE of THE GUYS”