Viewing posts from April, 2017

What is going on in your world?

Greetings have always been interesting to me. They are the starting point for communication. Good greetings provide a basis for meaningful and rewarding conversations. While bad ones more often lead to transactional interactions or unengaging small talk.

For a while, the two most common greetings I have used are "What's up?" and "How are you?" My favorite, at least in theory, being "How are you?"

It is a wonderful thing to know how the people in my life are actually doing. Though for whatever reason casually revealing how you are doing, unless you are doing great, is against the social norm in the United States. Additionally, because the greeting is so common, the question is usually given no real thought and the response is a rehearsed "Great! How are you?" Just a pushing back of the underlying socially uncomfortable question to the person who asked it, with neither side intending to give an answer.

Because I find this unsatisfactory, lately I've been trying out new greetings. With the goal of finding one that more often leads to meaningful conversation.

A greeting that I have found particularly satisfying is "What is going on in your world?"

This one often works well because, while we are not very comfortable casually talking about emotions in the United States, we are comfortable talking about the good and bad things going on in our lives right now. This is a great starting point for having a discussion about things that actually matter. In contrast, the starting point when asking "How are you?" is an emotional question. Because of the stigma attached to casually discussing emotions, an honest answer is often avoided and the conversation redirected to a petty chat.

"What is going on in your world?" is also a partly empathetic greeting. By asking about what is happening in *your world* it is recognized that the person has an entire universe of things going on in their mind and conveys an honest interest in hearing about some part of that world.