I, too, believe that if a question is asked, it should expect an answer. I do not ask people how they're doing, unless I really want to know. Conversation should be meaningful. I usually answer "How are you?" with either an exaggeration, "marvelous," "Terrific," "at least as good as I look," or sometimes a noncommittal "OK, and you?" As someone in retail, I have to go through this hundreds of times a day. sometimes, our exchange devolves into me ant the customer thanking each other repeatedly, which to an outsider sounds stupid. We're just both trying to be polite.
I always want to encourage people to be friendly and nice. Asking "how are you" is simply a way of acknowledging the other person in a polite, non-committal way. One never knows (especially in retail!) how the conversation may progress from there (ofttimes being waaaaay more than we want to know). We always have the choice to be polite, and civility is so much more pleasant than rancor. To my acquaintance-friends at the pool daily, I say "how youse dooin'", with a silly fake NYC accent, which always gets a smile.
Haha! I totally get this too.
A dear friend of mine in his 60s once said, "The first question is "how are you" and the second is "who cares?". To change it up, you can reply, "Hey--what's happenin'?" (Yes, I'm old. It was cool back then.)
I have always made the mistake of trying to answer the question of 'how are you'. I didn't want to lie if say I felt I was going to be making my own funeral arrangements next week, so now I try and respond with 'hanging in there', or occasionally I'll lie even. I am a very slow learner. I am sometimes tempted to say, "I live only to serve my two short furry overlords." Actually, that isn't bad, but it does help if the person you are telling this to is a cat person and also knows you have cats.
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