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The Standard Greeting

by Adam Zack — June 22, 2021

“Have you ever touched a monkey? “

Everyday, as I encounter people I know and strangers, my standard greeting is something along the lines of “Hi, how are you today?” and they respond something like “Good, how are you?” and I say “Great, thanks.” I think it’s “Greeting Small Talk”. And I really dislike small talk. It’s mostly insincere and a silence filler. It’s not engaging and it really doesn’t require you to be “present” or even really care. I think about it a lot, and often vow not to reply the same way, but can’t seem to break the habit. So I was listening to David Sedaris (a terrific observational writer if you’ve never read any of his books) and he talked about how he meets a lot of people on his book tours and speaking engagements. He strives to ask interesting questions that often turn into stories in his essays. One that really made me laugh was when he asked a woman if she had ever touched a monkey. She replied “Oh, can you smell it on me?” Turns out she volunteered with some kind of monkey rescue organization. So I thought of some questions that I will try and ask instead of the small talk “how you doing?”

  • Have you heard any good new music lately?
  • How’s your family?
  • Those shoes look so comfortable. Are they?
  • (When someone is wearing a sports team hat or shirt) How about those [insert team name here]?
  • (When you see someone in your store buying something interesting, like Dot’s Pretzels) Oh, have you had those pretzels before? They are SO good!
  • It’s so good to see your smiling face!
  • (When someone asks how you are first) Better now that I’ve seen you!

I can go on and on. The tough part is breaking the old greeting habit?

Read More – Anything Can Be An Advantage

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