Hello, how are you today?
Hello, how is your day going?
Hello, are you having a good day today?
Three variations of a phrase that we all probably use several times a day; be it to family, friends, customers, patients, or that really annoying person we all know and wish we could freeze with our imaginary super powers but instead we have to be grown ups and be polite to them.
How many of you are really ready though for the answer to this question? Which most of us have said because we either have to or with little meaning behind the comment. What if the answer isn’t the obligatory ‘I’m good thanks’ or ‘good thank’s and you?’ What would you do and how would you respond? What if the way you react to the non text-book “good thanks” could change the way that someone’s day has started out?
Well that’s what happened to me today while I was standing at the cash register at Officeworks.The Sales Assistant asked the man at her till “How is your day going sir?” and he replied with “Do you really want to know?” Que stunned awkward silence from the sales assistance who wasn’t expecting her question to go in this direction (she probably wishes she had a time machine so she could go back and just shut the hell up!) Luckily for her I was at the till next to the man and being the smarty pants I am (and a little nosey) I said “Oh oh I bet you wish you hadn’t asked that question, he might tell you now” – Now I said this in a very light-hearted way with a laugh in my voice and the sales assistance serving me picked right up on my remark and said “of course we want to know, we’re woman aren’t we?” – also said in an equally light-hearted way.
The man went on to tell us about his terrible month since separating from his wife and that his day had just gotten worse as because of certain things his wife wasn’t letting him have they’re two children aged five and eight for the weekend as agreed and was filing for full custody.
Ok, so at this point I felt like I was in the midst of a daytime soap and at any moment cameras would be fixed on me and someone would shout the words ACTION! That of course didn’t happen – much to my dismay; I’ve always fancied myself as an actress, mores the pity. What did happen though is that this man had three women listening to him as he told us about his crappy month and even crappier day who all Oh’d and Ah’d over him, gave him some words of encouragement and tried to make him laugh. As he left he said “Thanks ladies it’s the first time I’ve laughed all week.”
I must say I have to applaud this man for straying off course from the standard “Good thanks” and just saying what he rally wanted to say. There have definitely been days where what I’ve rally wanted to say is “How’s my day?, My dog and my daughter both decided to shit on the carpet, I’m bloated, I have a migraine because my daughter still wont’sleep through the night, I ran out of milk so I couldn’t have my morning coffee and you’ve run out of the toner I need for the printer, so all in all I’m having a pretty shitty (pardon the pun) day, thank’s for asking though.” The worst thing is how many times have you actually wanted to say “Do you really want to know?” or “Don’t ask it’s been terrible.” Do we ever say it though? No! Why? Because the reality is that we have been programmed over the years to give the polite answer and we think people wont really care and to be honest most of the time most people really don’t.
How different someone’s day could turn out if you did happen to get that person who strays from the fold and is honest with you and you in turn act in a friendly open and positive way. I’m not saying it’s going to change their life or anything but if you can lift one person up and make them laugh or smile or even lend an ear to listen to them for a moment or two then surely it’s worth the bit of awkwardness you might feel from not expecting the unexpected answer to your question. xx