“Oh my gosh I haven’t seen you in forever! How are you??”
“Good! How are you?”
End of conversation.
We are all guilty of it.
You know those people that you have some kind of vague connection with, and you haven’t seen them in the longest time, but it would be too rude to ignore them? The lines illustrated above are reserved specifically for these people.
The ugly truth is that the thought of them probably hasn’t crossed your mind since you last saw them. And although you’re excited to see someone that’s part of your past, you aren’t so excited to make a lot of effort. Most people ask the question, “How are you doing?” with no intention of getting a real answer or caring for one really.
And of the people who do respond, there are usually two different types of responses. 1) Everything in their life is going absolutely wonderful, they’re about to get married, receive that promotion, the world could end and it wouldn’t dampen their spirits. 2) Everything in their life is going absolutely horrible, they got divorced, lost their job, gained weight, the world could end and their only regret is that they no longer have someone to complain to.
Both of these responses generally irk people, because 1) no one likes hearing about how someone else is more successful than they are 2) no one really wants to hear your life’s problems when they ask you “how are you doing?”
Because of this people generally lie between their teeth and say “I’m fine/okay/good/great”.
The whole interaction really is a waste, because everyone is painfully aware of how shallow the conversation is.
It also completely defeats the purpose of asking someone, “How are you?” When you could care less about how they are doing.
I challenge you to put more thought into the next run in to your “blast from the past”. I’m not asking you to start philosophizing on the meaning of life. However, try to ask questions that you actually want to know the answer to. Perhaps ask them how their family is doing, if they still have the same hobbies, etc. The main component though is that you actually have an interest in what you are asking about. The conversation will be much richer for it, the person you are talking to will appreciate it, and you will not have wasted your breath for small talk!