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View Full Version : "Hi, how are you?" silly etiquette question


Capt. Murphy
22-05-10, 01:48
Okay. Sorry if this is too fluffy/chatty of a topic, but I'd like to know what the rest of you think....

I could be classified as a quite/shy person, but that doesn't make me a mean/uncaring person. So...

If you greet someone with "Hi, how are you doing?" or some other similar phrase - do you expect them to ask you back;

", and how are you?"

Personally, I didn't always do this. But I've got to thinking people think you don't care if you don't ask the question back. So I've been making the effort to ask it back... yet, I don't do it immediately - so it seems a bit tacked on and disingenuous. But it doesn't mean I don't care about how they're feeling. :o

I guess it's my personality. To me, if they look fine - then they must be fine. And if something was going on in their life - they might go ahead and tell me - without me having to pull said information from them.

But if I did perceive that something wasn't right - I would be more inclined to ask if something was wrong. But I guess that's not the point. The thing we want to know is / or are assuming is; that everything is FINE and we need to confirm that by asking.

It just seems like an unnecessary practice.


I suppose this can be different with people you know personally. I would be more prone to ask this back to people I know - rather than to a stranger, or a customer at the place I work at. And I do get customers that ask this a lot. So, if this is something that is socially acceptable (or socially [I]expected)- I'd like to work on this. :o

Gregori
22-05-10, 01:53
Its not really necessary to ask it back to have a good conversation. Hi, How are you doing is more of an opener to a more interesting conversation :)

Asking it back can even be boring..

Twilight
22-05-10, 01:57
I always say what I mean, so when I ask it I really want to know how they are. And when people ask me I don't say "fine" I give an honest answer. Just cuz some people are superficial, doesn't mean u have to be ;)

Capt. Murphy
22-05-10, 02:19
Oh yes. How many times do we say "Fine" or "Okay" when we really feel like crap or gum on the heel of life's shoe? :D

Although I have said "Things could always be worse" when I wasn't feeling to good emotionally.

To me; it could be how well we know the person asking. If you don't know them then "Fine" is a quick easy answer. Because if you do tell the truth it would just lead to conversation you'd rather avoid having to tell to someone that probably couldn't care any less anyway.

Oops. :D

It's not that anyone doesn't care, it's the hassle of saying why something is good or bad.

Draco
22-05-10, 02:35
"Just another day in paradise."

Simple, and doesn't invite conversation.

Twilight
22-05-10, 02:50
But why lie? Whether or not you care about them, lieing is pointless. In fact, I've made friends with people I originally didn't like by just being truthful. If u don't feel well that day jus say it "I feel like ****." no one is happy all the time and its nice to see someone that doesn't wear a painted smile.

Gregori
22-05-10, 02:52
^ like this?

http://media.filmschoolrejects.com/images/ledger-joker.jpg

robm_2007
22-05-10, 05:38
if i am seeing someone in a hallway, passing by, and they ask me hows it going, i just say hello or that i am fine; and i dont expect to converse any further.

if we are at some sort of function or in a class or something, then that is usually a point of starting a converstation.

spikejones
22-05-10, 05:41
from my experience, people don't really care how you are doing. its just a programmed greeting of courtesy. You're not actually supposed to respond with how you are actually doing.

Yuna´s Wish
22-05-10, 05:59
I usually skip the whole introduction :p It's -usually- a waste of valuable time, especially when you're on MSN and you're eager to chat about something specific. I presume people are fine, and I expect them to tell me they're not if they feel like.

Legend 4ever
22-05-10, 06:02
from my experience, people don't really care how you are doing. its just a programmed greeting of courtesy. You're not actually supposed to respond with how you are actually doing.

Depends on where you live. In US, it's a courtesy question and people usually just say "I'm good, thank you, how are you?", but in most of Europe(speaking from experience), you can actually say how you're feeling that day(or have been feeling recently) and it can be a whiny story, no one will care -- they will still try to help you solve your problem.

In USA, it's sometimes even seen as rude if you're telling others your problems and the usual answer to "Don't ask, I feel so bad today: my car broke down, I lost the keys to my house and I had a fight with my mom." will be answered to with just "Aww, I'm sorry." I hate that.

Edit: That's actually how some people differentiate friends from acquaintances. A friend will always want to know how you really are.

EmeraldFields
22-05-10, 06:04
If someone asks me how I am I usually just say "fine." People aren't REALLY wanting to know how you are, it's just a way of saying hello.

Alpharaider47
22-05-10, 06:11
When I ask "how are you?" I'm usually seriously asking, but I know a lot of people who just use it as a greeting.

Glaçon
22-05-10, 06:12
I almost always ask, "How are you?" Shortly after saying hello to someone - I actually find its becoming more and more rare. Some people almost seem taken aback, like they were ready to launch into saying something else :p

To think about it, I don't think I've been asked it very much.

spikejones
22-05-10, 06:16
A friend will always want to know how you really are.

thats why I just deleted over half of my "friends" on facebook. people whom I would make comments about their statuses etc, and they never did the same for me. IMO friends are supposed to care about each other and talk, but when I see you online everyday and you don't say the first word to me... you're gonna get booted from my friends list.

Lara's home
22-05-10, 06:18
It's not like people actually ask that, because they care.
The normal way to answer, would be "Fine, and you?", regardless of how you really feel.

Unless it's a really close friend, saying anything but "fine" just creates an awkward moment.

Glaçon
22-05-10, 06:33
Unless it's a really close friend, saying anything but "fine" just creates an awkward moment.

I don't think that's true at all. If I've asked, generally I'm going to expect a reply. I'm not going to mind if it's, "fine", or some story of their morning so far. But yes, generally, you do expect a bit more information from close friends then just, "fine".

Another Lara
22-05-10, 07:27
I get this all the time in work, pretty much because I'm on he phone all day to different offices! I must be asked how I am about 20 times a day in my job and I've realised that a lot of the time it helps to be honest when someone asks you how you are so that they give you a break and don't badger you about stupid things! Well that's what happens where I work anyways!

Drone
22-05-10, 07:38
in 99% people don't care how are you anyway. at least here. "how are you" became a part of "hi" it's just like one whole word "hihowareyou". I never say how are you to people I don't care for. And those who mean a life to me I always just say how do you feel or are you feeling good

almayah
22-05-10, 08:17
I always respond to people I KNOW, and people and on this forum, but I hate when I ask the question, they respond, but don't ask back :mad:

Lemmie
22-05-10, 08:46
I usually preface my conversations with 'Hi how're you?' It kind of irritates me when people say 'I'm fine thanks.' without asking me how I am; it seems pretty rude.

Ikas90
22-05-10, 09:09
I usually start my conversations with "Ey, what's crackin'?"

That's just around my friends, mind you. :p

Glaçon
22-05-10, 09:12
I usually start my conversations with "Ey, what's crackin'?"

That's just around my friends, mind you. :p

Lul, you playa' :ton:

xXhayleyroxXx
22-05-10, 09:16
i do expect people to say it back, but i appreiciate the fact some people dont :p

Liara
22-05-10, 09:25
I've been classified as shy too, but I never really bothered to ask "how are you?" back. And no one complained, odd enough. My sister (who always tells me about what it is I'm doing wrong) said that it's not a big deal.

If people want to yap about how they're feeling, then they should. No point dancing around it and blaming you for not asking. Maybe it's just my social retardation talking, but why is it that people are so touchy if you ignore them in this situation? If they say they're fine, then they're the ones who chose to hide their true emotions. We're not archeologist who have to dig around for the true way they feel.

Maybe some people purposefully hide their true emotions, so prying with more questions would make them uncomfortable.

I remember a uni acquaintance who I had just met one day, and the following day she spilled out her whole life's story without me even asking what's up. Had I done that to someone, my sister would have smacked me across the head and told me that it's wrong to rant like that to others. You know, it's times like those that really remind me why I don't understand society.

Glaçon
22-05-10, 09:33
I've been classified as shy too, but I never really bothered to ask "how are you?" back. And no one complained, odd enough. My sister (who always tells me about what it is I'm doing wrong) said that it's not a big deal.

If people want to yap about how they're feeling, then they should. No point dancing around it and blaming you for not asking. Maybe it's just my social retardation talking, but why is it that people are so touchy if you ignore them in this situation? If they say they're fine, then they're the ones who chose to hide their true emotions. We're not archeologist who have to dig around for the true way they feel.

Maybe some people purposefully hide their true emotions, so prying with more questions would make them uncomfortable.

I remember a uni acquaintance who I had just met one day, and the following day she spilled out her whole life's story without me even asking what's up. Had I done that to someone, my sister would have smacked me across the head and told me that it's wrong to rant like that to others. You know, it's times like those that really remind me why I don't understand society.

I think you listen to your sister too much.

(But I love your avatar! Morrigan is awesome.)

Liara
22-05-10, 12:14
Heh, thanks Glaçon. ^^ Anyways, the reason I do listen to her so much is that she's the only one in the family who loves hanging out with people all the time and has been in many and diverse social situations. So she knows the "do"s and "don't"s. I think that spending time with twenty close friends every day qualifies her as pretty darn knowledgeable. Compared to a shut-in like me anyway.

Punaxe
22-05-10, 12:21
I used to answer that question more truthfully than people were expecting, and that shows the problem of the situation: for many it is indeed nothing more than a greeting, and they only want to hear you're doing fine because that won't require further discussion.
When I was in New Zealand, "how are ya?" in fact seemed to have replaced "hi" entirely, and no answer was even expected. Passers-by would ask me how I am, but by the time I could ask them the same they were already meters away. Observing others, I noticed that the ritual was nothing more than both people asking "how are ya?", and neither responding.

Nowadays my answer depends on who's asking. Whether or not I immediately return the question depends on where the conversation is going. I do usually come round to asking the other person how he's doing, provided I care (which I generally don't if they don't either).

Glaçon
22-05-10, 12:37
Heh, thanks Glaçon. ^^ Anyways, the reason I do listen to her so much is that she's the only one in the family who loves hanging out with people all the time and has been in many and diverse social situations. So she knows the "do"s and "don't"s. I think that spending time with twenty close friends every day qualifies her as pretty darn knowledgeable. Compared to a shut-in like me anyway.

Oh don't be silly. Real, interesting people aren't going to care if you aren't versed in social "coolness". :)

I used to answer that question more truthfully than people were expecting, and that shows the problem of the situation: for many it is indeed nothing more than a greeting, and they only want to hear you're doing fine because that won't require further discussion.
When I was in New Zealand, "how are ya?" in fact seemed to have replaced "hi" entirely, and no answer was even expected. Passers-by would ask me how I am, but by the time I could ask them the same they were already meters away. Observing others, I noticed that the ritual was nothing more than both people asking "how are ya?", and neither responding.

Nowadays my answer depends on who's asking. Whether or not I immediately return the question depends on where the conversation is going. I do usually come round to asking the other person how he's doing, provided I care (which I generally don't if they don't either).

Ah, but that's different. When Im at work and I ask people how they are, I don't expect a full blown answer either. But when I ask my friends, generally they do take the time to tell me about themselves and their day so far.

Dennis's Mom
22-05-10, 13:07
If someone asks me how I am I usually just say "fine." People aren't REALLY wanting to know how you are, it's just a way of saying hello.

Yeah, people over analyze. Merely a formality. It's not meant to open a can a worms.

I'm from Texas and actually say "howdy" which is a diminution of "how do (you do?"

I learned from reading the No. 1 Detective Ladies Series that in Botswana you ask "Have you slept well?" Mma Ramotswe considers people really rude if they bypass this formal greeting.

Hyper_Crazy
22-05-10, 13:29
I never ask how are you, people don't even say it to me now. I can just jump straight into a conversation and people know that I don't like them asking how I am. If I havn't seen someone for a while and they say "you alright" I'm fine with that. :)

On MSN if anyone asked how I am or what I'm up to or whatever I just block them usually. Unless it's like my first conversation with them. :)

Glaçon
22-05-10, 13:34
I never ask how are you, people don't even say it to me now. I can just jump straight into a conversation and people know that I don't like them asking how I am. If I havn't seen someone for a while and they say "you alright" I'm fine with that. :)

On MSN if anyone asked how I am or what I'm up to or whatever I just block them usually. Unless it's like my first conversation with them. :)

Wow, really? It's the first thing I ask my friends on MSN after "hello".

TRhalloween
22-05-10, 14:07
I prefer the phrase "Shut up and give me some money". It's a phrase we can all relate to:)



On MSN if anyone asked how I am or what I'm up to or whatever I just block them usually. Unless it's like my first conversation with them. :)

0_0

remote91
22-05-10, 14:40
Ha, someone asked me that yesterday when I walked by, I just smiled, my headphones were in anyway.

Minty Mouth
22-05-10, 14:41
You don't care how I am, and I don't care how you are. Let's skip the formalities and social constraints altogether, please. I have my own stuff to be getting on with.

In fact, I find it more rude for you to be bothering me with meaningless small-talk when I have things to be doing and you won't even listen to my answer.

Catracoth
22-05-10, 14:41
I only ask "How are you" in two scenarios - when I'm passing someone in the school hallway:

Me: Oh hey Person.
Person: Hey, how are you?
Me: Good and yourself?
Person: Good thanks.

And be done with it. The second is when I'm about to have a conversation with someone.

Me: Hello there.
Person: Hey!
Me: How are you?
Person: Good and you?

And go on from there. The former scenario is when I ask to just be polite and friendly - when I ask, I honestly don't really care. However, in the latter scenario, I do care when I ask.

Glaçon
22-05-10, 14:43
You don't care how I am, and I don't care how you are. Let's skip the formalities and social constraints altogether, please.

What, you don't have friends that like to hear about how you are? I find that hard to believe.

Minty Mouth
22-05-10, 14:45
What, you don't have friends that like to hear about how you are? I find that hard to believe.

Hardly the same situation. Then, it isn't just a matter of manners, but a matter of genuine concern. This thread is about the manners and ettiquette behind it.

remote91
22-05-10, 14:47
When I see my friend friends, then we're just like "yo"

We don't need to see how each other are, if one of us wasn't okay, we'd be able to tell

toxicraider
22-05-10, 16:30
Yeah, I find it a little awkward when somebody I know walks past, and greets me with 'alright', with only a vague tone of voice that would imply a question. Do you say 'hi', 'alright' or 'I'm... thanks, you?' in reply? If we're walking in opposite directions, there's not really enough time to blurt out 'I'm ok thanks, you?'.

Usually I say 'hi' or do the nod if I'm just walking past. If I start talking to someone then 'you alright?' or 'how are you?' is a good start to the conversation. :p

coolaideonfire
22-05-10, 16:42
I'm the opposite. I always ask how people are, and it irritates me to high heavens. I'll even do it in passing know myself and the people around me won't have time to respond, lol. I think it's in me to care about people and ensure that everything is ok.

Rai
22-05-10, 23:45
I get a little confused/awkward by this as well. It feels to me that it would be impolite not to ask back, you know, Person a: Hi, how are you? Person b: I'm fine thanks, yourself? If I'm in a rush or just passing that's pretty much what I'll say or even have time for in some cases.

If I'm meeting up with someone I know well then I will be more honest about how I'm feeling, then I'd still ask how they were too. Its more of a conversation starter.

!Lara Croft!
23-05-10, 00:07
We say "Hi, how are you?" because it is etiquette.

The reply is always a postive "Good, fine etc.." bacause it is also etiquette. (Someone you've just met shouldnt know your problems no matter how big they are).

They then ask how your are. You also should reply with a positve.

Now you can start a conversation as its your turn to speak.

The most common conversation starter is to ask a question. If you wish to ask a question then you say "May i ask you a question?". The other should say yes as its polite. You may then ask your question and continue with the conversation.

Legend 4ever
23-05-10, 00:19
We say "Hi, how are you?" because it is etiquette.

The reply is always a postive "Good, fine etc.." bacause it is also etiquette. (Someone you've just met shouldnt know your problems no matter how big they are).

They then ask how your are. You also should reply with a positve.

Now you can start a conversation as its your turn to speak.

The most common conversation starter is to ask a question. If you wish to ask a question then you say "May i ask you a question?". The other should say yes as its polite. You may then ask your question and continue with the conversation.

The sad thing is, some people don't really care to know even if they've known you for who knows how long. For some people this is always an etiquette question, which is really messed up.

Draco
23-05-10, 02:06
thats why I just deleted over half of my "friends" on facebook. people whom I would make comments about their statuses etc, and they never did the same for me. IMO friends are supposed to care about each other and talk, but when I see you online everyday and you don't say the first word to me... you're gonna get booted from my friends list.

Are we friends on FB? lol

I comment on everything... if I see it that is.