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the REAL meaning of: how are you doing?


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<rant>

 

It's the Holidays, and I work retail. That one thought alone is enough to drive me to the brink. What makes it worse is the fact I work the entire week of Christmas (except actual Christmas day).

 

On a daily basis customers, employers & fellow employees ask me that question (you know, the question with the always undesirable answer). Which is: how are you doing?!

 

Granted, I always hated this question (with a passion!!!). Because let's face it, a large percentage of the people who walk by don't really give a fuck. Its just said in a manner to appease social acceptance.

 

So when people ask: Hey! How are you doing??!!

It really means: HI! I am going to throw this question at you to show you I am attentive, and that I care. But in actuality, I am just trying to not look like an ass/bitch when I really don't give a fuck.

 

And honestly, I am not sure if I would even care if it wasn't for that when you are feeling emotionally or physically drained (from whatever) and you do want someone to talk to, they act strange. I have noticed with the majority of people, their reaction to my question (when I tell them the truth of how I am really feeling) is either a) they make a sly remark to get away b) they look and act uninterested, until you let them get away.

 

So the meaning to the question how are you doing is not only I don't care, its also: And please don't bother telling me the truth of how you are doing, because I wont give you the satisfaction of actually caring.

 

People truly exhaust me, as well as confuse me on a daily basis. And it is not as if I am trying to lay out my life story to people. I just want people to know I am not cheerful about doing so much for so little, and having to be happy about that. I mean you asked me how I was doing, and I am telling you! Why am I getting the backlash for your social rules?

 

<extra rant>

I am not sure who to actually talk to (complain to, cry to, anything to) because of this reason. And just because you have the time & money to come to our expensive-as-fuck store that I cant even shop at, doesn't mean I am a cheerful Santa slut who enjoys being your maid @ minimum wage for 6 days in a row. Especially when I have to come back the next day and deal with your ass again.

 

PS I hate your Macy's Christmas sweater (and your UGG boots).

</end extra rant>

</end rant>

Edited by the girl
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I've stopped pretending. I answer honestly. Sometimes that's "fine" and sometimes it's "mad" or "excited" or "worried" etc.

 

If people aren't prepared to hear the answer to "How are you doing?" then they shouldn't ask.

 

I mean, it's kind of a mindless conversation, like eating plastic food. It may have calories, but it lacks substance.

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I totally can relate.  I think I am at the point where anytime people ask how am I doing, I have an automatic response of "pretty good, how about yourself?"  IMO they honestly don't want to hear otherwise.

 

I don't even bother to tell them how I really am because of what you mentioned ... about looking uninterested, feeling awkward, until I let them get away.  The only person I am totally honest with is my pdoc. 

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I answer the same way as Melissa. I find even when family asks they don't really want to know. No one wants to hear "I think I might be spiraling into a mixed state" or even a simple "I've been better." I look at "How are you doing" the same as "Hello," just a greeting.

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I have 2 shop assistants I've gotten to know and I generally answer them pretty honestly (my local health food store guy poor thing always cops the truth!). Otherwise I class it as one of those polite questions that people don't wan the answer to and they get a "fine thanks how are you" in return. You're right, it's courtesy, generally most people don't actually give a toss how you are.

Edited by Jessamine
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"So the meaning to the question how are you doing is not only I don't care, its also: And please don't bother telling me the truth of how you are doing, because I wont give you the satisfaction of actually caring.

People truly exhaust me, as well as confuse me on a daily basis."

 

I could have written that, coming from  my Asperger's perspective.

 

"Hi. how are you?" "Fine, and you?" "Fine"

It is mostly not taken at face value and largely seems to be a social ritual to acknowledge presence and a declaration of non-hostility.

If any real communication is desired, it can then begin.

 

It is so hard-wired that my doctor reports that when he asks "how are you" of people who have come to see him he still very frequently gets the reflexive "fine", despite them only coming to see him because the have a problem.

 

I don't like lying and "fine" is not a good answer in fact, so I've developed the phrase "bits of me are excellent."

People can take that as an optimistic response, or enquire as to the other bits if they choose.

It seems to work quite well.

 

Chris

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So the meaning to the question how are you doing is not only I don't care, its also: And please don't bother telling me the truth of how you are doing, because I wont give you the satisfaction of actually caring.

I brought this up to my old therapist when she asked if I had someone to vent to or something like that. I said people only ask that to be polite, they don't really care what your answer is. She was totally taken aback. She tried getting me to see how that was a cynical belief but it didn't work, I believe it to be true in most cases.

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Most people I run across do use that phrase as a social nicety.  And I'm Ok with that.  I mean, if I'm in public and someone I am acquainted with says that, I just answer fine, even though I may not be fine.  Because I just don't want to get into it with that particular person in that setting.  

 

However, I am blessed to have people in my life who actually would like to hear the truth from me (and me from them).  So the people who say it only to be polite don't bother me.  I can see how if I didn't have those people who actually care and I wanted to have them, I could get cynical about it.  

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I'm ok with that question, and I will answer it at least semi-honestly. I've found that if it is answered with anything but "fine", it opens the door to further conversation. Of course, I don't recount all my miseries to anyone.

Edited by jt07
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So the meaning to the question how are you doing is not only I don't care, its also: And please don't bother telling me the truth of how you are doing, because I wont give you the satisfaction of actually caring.

I brought this up to my old therapist when she asked if I had someone to vent to or something like that. I said people only ask that to be polite, they don't really care what your answer is. She was totally taken aback. She tried getting me to see how that was a cynical belief but it didn't work, I believe it to be true in most cases.

 

 

You are right.  It has become for many (most?) a social ritual almost completely detached from the meaning of the words used.

Breaking the "greeting ritual" by not giving a standard reply (and thereby showing you are part of the same "social custom group" and therefore non-threatening) can get quite marked responses

"Did you mean that?" is one to try if in the mood to attempt raising the other person to a greater level of awareness.

 

Chris.

Edited by Emettman
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Yeah, I have tried saying I am hanging in there or even joking that I am fabulous, and people tend to freeze up and not know what to say. Which then supports my belief and I continue to say, "Good, how are you?" I hate lying when asked that question.

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  • 1 month later...

I think the majority of people do it as a social manners thing, but i actually do believe a lot more people actually CARE if you say you don't feel great than we seem to think on this board, i see it all the time with people in the street.

 

Of course there are those who literally don't care, but then i find those are the ones who don't ask in the first place,

because they are too wrapped up in themselves.

Edited by neptunesky
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I think the majority of people do it as a social manners thing, but i actually do believe a lot more people actually CARE if you say you don't feel great than we seem to think on this board, i see it all the time with people in the street.

 

I agree with the social manners type-thing, but if someone asks me how I am and I say "depressed," or something, it seems to always (or the great majority of the time) make the other person uncomfortable and they try to stumble over words to change the subject.  Maybe they care, but IME the majority don't truly care how I am.  They'd rather have a conversation that is up-beat.

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^^^ that might have something more to do with them not understanding depression and not wanting to say the wrong thing,also a lot of people have a lot of problems in their own life.

 

Iam constantly told in real life by non depressed people, that my depression talks make them miserable.

 

It's like in Prozac Nation when Elizabeth Wurtzel say's something like

 

"poor Ruby, i steal her joy".

Edited by neptunesky
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