When I worked at a craft store, I would always ask the customer how they were doing, and sometimes they would answer. Only very rarely would they ask me how I was. Once, after a long day, I started telling people how I was doing anyway. That really messed with their minds. I’d say with a big smile “And I’m fine too, thanks!” and they’d look at me like I was crazy. I’d gotten the script wrong as far as they could tell. They hadn’t asked me how I was doing, yet I was telling them anyway.
In my opinion, they were the ones who had gotten the script wrong. If someone asks you how you are doing, you are supposed to reply and then ask them how they are doing. There is no reason that manners stop when you are dealing with a clerk behind a counter. Everyone deserves to be treated politely.
There’s more. It isn’t just the asking that is the issue. One you ask, you have to wait for an answer. Try looking the other person in the eyes. Don’t just say the words and go on. Make it a meaningful moment, instead of meaningless words.
I think our world has become less connected. Cell phones and email and instant messaging and Facebook and Twitter and texting don’t seem to be doing what they were intended to do. We can communicate faster, but not better. We are interacting with our devices and not with people. We seem to be actually retreating further into ourselves with all the information that keeps pouring in. We can change this trend, but it starts with each one of us choosing to make real connections with real people.