Here at Whitworth University and anywhere you go, instead of saying, “hello,” we have started using the phrase, “how are you?” as our new greeting. When you are walking from class to class or see an acquaintance in the HUB, you are easily inclined to greet them by asking, “Hey, how’s it going?” when in reality you know that they will only respond with “Good” or “I’m great” or “Awesome, how are you?” If you already know they will respond in one of a handful of ways, where is the genuine interest in the other person?
Throughout the entirety of a single day, we each have our ups and downs which make us feel not good or not great or not awesome. Wouldn’t it be so much better to hear someone ask you “how are you doing?” when you have the time to be real with them? Then you can share even the slightest bit of detail as to what is going on in your mind and heart.
Whitworth strives to be an inclusive community that seeks out the individual and yearns for each person to feel accepted, known and comfortable. Does constantly hiding our real emotions from the people around us who we would consider friends fall in line with those goals?
One way I would challenge you this week is to save the “how are you?” question for the moments when you are willing to hear an open-ended response. Instead, when you are passing someone along the Hello Walk, simply say “hi [insert name of passerby]” and save the “how are you” when you can listen to a longer answer. Little by little, you may see that you will grow closer to those around you and truly build community at Whitworth by setting aside time to hear the little details of someone’s day.
As a long-time culprit of the ingenuine greeting, I understand this habit is something that can be difficult to change or even be aware of. I am not asking for an immediate shift in language or lifestyle. Over time, habits are slowly wired into us and can take weeks, months or years to address and reverse. I ask that as a community we seek a genuine interest in the other for the common goal of intentionally listening to the other person. Doesn’t it feel good to be known by those around you, rather than hide some days behind the good or great or awesome façade?