As a cashier at my new school, most of my customers are students and since I work in the evening they are usually tired and just try to get their orders as quick as they can. When they come up to me with different items to ring up some of them look uninterested so I just have to say “Would you like your receipt?” and in less than a minute, a new customer is in line. Lately I’ve been having students who come up with their food and say, “ Hi, how are you?” I quickly respond with “ I’m fine,you?” Again in a minute or two the next customer. I thought about my early stages when I was learning English. One of the first things I was taught was:
-How are you?
– I’m fine, thank you. And you?
I believe it to be true for anyone learning a new language. But why didn’t they teach us how to say “I’m not okay but thank you. And you?” Why didn’t they teach us how to answer to questions truthfully? Communication is all about exchanging information. We all hate rumours or just wrong information. How about the rumours we create everyday? How about the wrong perception we give to people about us. The worst part is we’ve caught the phrase it almost sounds rehearsed.You might think it’s a way of being formal but even to the people most close to us we use the same response unless they inquire further. It’s like we were almost taught that it’s not correct or okay not to be okay. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be happy or joyful every time but how about being genuine. There’s no problem that can be solved unless it’s pinned as one. By admitting that you’re not okay (at least to those close to you) you give room for improvement instead of growing numb. Then we wonder why people pretend to be okay when they’re not well. What if today you said to me, “Hi how are you?” and I replied with “I’m not okay.” What would you tell me? Surprised maybe but what would you respond. Would you be okay with hearing someone say they’re not okay or would that make you feel uncomfortable.
Try this next time you meet someone and just say answer to their question of “how are you?” as honestly as you can. It’s about time we unlearn some concepts.
Now, can we both practice?
How are you?