Does anyone else struggle sometimes to do ‘appropriate’ greetings? You know, as the social skills textbook instructs, especially when hugely distracted by something else? Usually I can manage it, but this morning I may have managed to diversify!
I happened to need to pop to the Scout shop this morning to buy some badges for my Beavers. After I got out of my car I realised that there was what looked like a dead hedgehog by the side of the car park. So I had to stop for a few minutes to investigate whether a) it was actually a hedgehog, and b) it was actually dead. So after establishing those facts, I walked into the shop and rather than doing the textbook greeting, I just said “there’s a dead hedgehog in the car park!” Luckily they were fine with it, they even asked what group scarf it was wearing BUT this really isn’t the appropriate way for me to greet people who I haven’t seen for a few months!!
Oh I don’t know-it’s more interesting than hello? I know what you mean though. Around here the appropriate greeting is hello, how ya doing. I still can’t compute the fact that this isn’t a question you should answer...
I find the question ones the worst, too. Even now, if I'm flummoxed, which I often am when I just enter a different environment, I'll go for one of my classic literal descriptions; "How are you mate?" - "Very sweaty", "A bit damp", "My undies have ridden up my bum crack", or such like.
The ones where you can answer by just repeating the question aren't too bad these days. But when I first moved up to West Yorkshire, I encountered my nemesis; "Wass'tha noorthen?" It took my softie-Southerner brain long enough to work out that this meant "What do you know, then?". And after that - Aaargh! Know about what? Do I just pick a favourite trivia subject? Is there something I'm supposed to know?
Just to throw a spanner in the works, it's sometimes extended to "Wass'tha noorthen, owt o' nowt?" (What do you know, then, anything or nothing?) You would think that the binary options would be easier, but no, it's just a red herring.
The “how are you mate?” question brings me to a recent discussion between myself and one of my autistic friends. When most people ask you how you are, they don’t ‘really’ want to know ‘how’ you are, it is simply a social pleasantry to ask people how they are and the socially acceptable response is to say “I’m good thank you!” accompanied by a big beaming smile, even if you are really fed far from good. We were wondering what the actual point in this is? Why ask a question to which you do not wish to know the honest answer?
The yorkshire greeting seems confusing! What is the correct answer?
I just go with "Not a lot, how about you?" these days. I figure that this is probably a kind of correct answer, in the sense that I take the question to mean something along the lines of "have you heard any tasty gossip that I might like to hear?" - which I'm very unlikely to have done, and I wouldn't pass on anyway because I hate to talk about people behind their backs.
I always find this weird as well, hear everybody around me in work saying "how was your night? good good" clearly not having listened to the response and I keep thinking everytime "why did you ask if you don't care". I seriously think it's stuff like that which is to blame for my last of answering questions about myself properly as I assume it's more politeness and they don't actually care. Then you get into that whole crap of is it not polite to not ask them questions back even if you don't want to know?
That seems like a good response and it’s reciprocal too which tends to go down well with most people
Sadly, I believe the whole “how are you doing?” thing to be largely an airy fairy construct where you’re just expected to play along in order to fit in socially.
I personally would respond by asking someone ‘how they are’ back because when I ask it, I do want to know the honest answer and if someone were to respond that they weren’t doing too well, then I would enquire a bit further and try to help them if I was able to. But that’s just me.
Kitsune said:Sadly, I believe the whole “how are you doing?” thing to be largely an airy fairy construct where you’re just expected to play along in order to fit in socially.
Linguists call it phatic communication - and you've pretty much nailed the definition! The content is immaterial and the only thing conveyed is one's willingness to go along with the social conventions.
And those of us that don't go along with social conventions get ostracized! Unless we've learned to play the game, most of the time!