In DK (Denmark) we'd greet with "hi" or "hello" instead of the US novels of "how are you doing? good, thanks, how about you? doing good, thank you".
- David Heinemeier Hansson, a partner at 37signals had that to say about the common words we use to start a conversation here in the US.
That's sad. I don't disagree with the observation though. It's just sad that we waste our time on this insincere boilerplate.
We shouldn't be all business and skip the desire to find out the well being of the person we are about to greet.
I argue we should actually give a shit.
Have some sincerity in actually finding out how your friend, acquaintance, customer, neighbor, etc. is doing. As well share how you're actually doing.
I've started a habit of spending 150 words or less letting someone know how "I'm doing". They aren't going to get an earful. But if someone bothers to ask me, I spend 30 seconds or so actually telling them.
If someone ask's how I'm doing before asking me for customer support I might say:
"Hey there. I'm good, my wife and I started dance lessons a few weeks ago, and they've been fun, but I think we need to find a new dance studio as this one is all about the upsell. How's it going there? Oh, I see what you need to fix there..."
"Hello. Things are great, but I'm real sore. I started doing p90x about a month ago. It's this crazy home fitness thing that leaves me super sore every day. Great program, just needs a lot of time and commitment. What's been new with you? Thanks the for alert on XYZ..."
I don't need to go on a rant, or tell the people what I had for lunch. But if someone asks me how I'm doing, I go ahead and tell them.
The conversations that result from practicing this have been great.
There's a connection that gets made that's so much more rewarding than just the boilerplate "How are you. [Insert what I really want to talk to you about]" New things are uncovered and new friends are made.
And on the flip side, if I ask someone how they are doing? I mean it. I try and listen. If I don't get anything, I ask again. We've been programmed to feel like "you don't really care how I feel, and we're all in this on our own, so I'll get this question over with 'Good, how are you'."
So I try and help my conversation partner break out of this with some sincere interest in what they've been doing.
It might not be universally appreciated, but I know I enjoy connecting with the people around me a lot more when my conversations aren't just about what someone thinks they need or want on the business end.