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Greetings (from "Waves--Not Spoons")
While, “Hi. How are you?” is the tried and true all-purpose greeting, the inevitable response, “Fine. How are you?” in its innumerable variations is always safe if a bit stale.
At 98% of all social events, never, never, never answer the question, “How are you?” with a litany of complaints, ailments, or the latest personal misfortunes. Trust me. It is a conversation killer and will leave you standing alone at the punch bowl.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of room between “Fine” and a 20-minute dissertation on my irritable bowel syndrome.
A general statement like, “It’s been a challenging week” or “I’ve decided I hate cars. How about you?” can let others know that things aren’t perfect without inviting sympathy or making others feel confused and uncomfortable. At the same time, the “How about you?” invites the other person to engage.
Try to keep your greeting(s) short, simple and a little bit interesting.
“Hi. My name is Gerry. Mostly I help children with dyslexia learn to read and write. How about you?”
There’s nothing wrong with a canned greeting. If you have your own business, and it feels appropriate, an entertaining 30-second “elevator speech” can be a real icebreaker.
“Hi. Gerry H. I’m Director of the Neuro-linguistic Learning Center. We work with children and teens to help take the stress and struggle out of learning. In reality, we mostly work with parents, so they save their kids from a mind-numbing education.”
The trick is to open the door to an interesting dialogue without ‘dumping’.
In greetings, a little goes a long way.
"Waves--Not Spoons" is a wealth of information on greetings and goodbyes, small talk and chitchat, and other social conventions.