When an acquaintance asks how you’re doing, what do you typically say? Do you say, “I’m great/fine” even if it’s not always the truth? Or do you take a more honest approach and sum up how you really feel by saying something like, “Fair to crappy, how about you?”
A friend and I got into a discussion over this the other day. She says she prefers the honest (though jokey) approach — why lie through your teeth when you’re not actually having a great day? Responding otherwise is disingenuous, superficial and makes for dull conversation. But she says her “fair to crappys” are typically accompanied by a big, cheese eating grin so the acquaintance knows she’s being sarcastic and they can both share a chuckle over the daily grind of life.
I disagreed with her. I’m not sure an acquaintance — and I’m talking about an acquaintance here, not a close friend — cares about my daily irritations. She’s dealing with the same crap — bills, work issues, people who rub me the wrong way — why does she need a glimpse into the issues that grind my soul into a bloody pulp on a daily basis? When I ask a random person how they’re doing, and they respond negatively — even under a veil of sarcasm — I internally brace myself for an itemization of their boring set backs and pet peeves. Save the drama for yo mama.
Besides, words have a huge impact on how we feel; draggy (sarcastic) words equal draggy (sarcastic) aura. Life is about spin. There’s always something to feel “great” about, even if it’s Season 3 of Downton Abbey or picking up a case of Trader Joe’s Three Buck Chuck for $39 like I did yesterday! I LOVE THE WORLD!
Zeroing in on life’s little “greats” — that scrumptious and delicious cheap case of wine, Lady Mary on Downtown Abbey — opens up a fresh line of conversation beyond the rote response of “work is good, the kids are good, blah, blah, snooze, blah…” acquaintances expect when they ask “how are you?” You actually have something real and interesting to talk about beyond bland pleasantries and lame generalities. It is a parade of good cheer for all.
I realize this is not an either/or issue; responses change depending on the day and the degree of annoyances, but I’ve come around to the “I’m great!!!!!” team, even if it sometimes feels like I’m lying through my teeth. How about you?