My mother Esther lived with me in her last years, and I have to say we really enjoyed her sense of humor.
With that in mind, here's part of what made me realize how useless the phrase, Hi, how are you? really is.
The house phone rang. Esther answered.
The man said, Hi, Mrs. Fried-man, this is Dan from XXX. How are you?
My mother saidwithout missing a beatI'm so glad you called. I have a bad case of diarrhea, a terrible migraine, been vomiting all day, my pacemaker is running slower than normal and I have a bad rash. How are you?
His reply: Well, compared to you, a hell of a lot better. Then he hung up.
So what's my point?
Hi, how are you? is semi-useless, especially to those we don't even know. I've seen folks pass in the halls, in a mall, in an office, in a retail business. Everywhere. One says, Hi, how are you? The other says, Fine, how are you?
No one stops; they're still walking and nothing was accomplished.
I've removed, Hi, how are you? from my vocabulary. Youand the people answering the phones at your businessshould consider dropping it, as well.
Here's what I've done with that practically useless greeting: It's been replaced with any one of these phrases:
Good to see you.
Hi, you're looking well.
Thanks for being here.
You look super.
Nice to hear your voice. (On phone)
I'm glad you called. (On phone)
You're sounding great. (On phone)
Of course, when you're answering your business phone, the routine will have to be adjusted somewhat, but there are plenty more and better ways to greet someone. I just got the ball rolling here. Try anything but, Hi, how are you?
Well, come to think of it, after sharing those with you, I've changed my mindit's not semi-useless; it is useless.
Watch what happens when you change your tune. People start really listening to you.
Nancy Friedman's columns appear periodically in Tire Business. She is president of Telephone Doctor Inc., an international customer service training company based in St. Louis. She can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 314-291-1012. Her website is www.nancyfriedman.com.