Let's Be Honest...
It's Okay To Dodge The "I'm good, how are you?"
Let’s be real here. Nobody is a fan of the “water cooler” small talk with coworkers, and especially not the whole "'How are you?' 'I'm good; how are you?'" exchange.
It could be because you know that, nine times out of 10, your coworker (as nice and pleasant as they may be) really, truly doesn’t care how you are—and you don’t really care how they are. It’s a tradition/commonality that we have all followed throughout the years, that we feel the need to ask—but do we ever really listen?
(By the way, while I am standing here calling out all of our coworkers, I will be the first to admit that I am totally guilty of this as well.)
I used to absolutely dread this exchange—because, to be completely honest, anytime I responded to the “How are you?” it was with the obligatory “I’m good, how are you?” which sent me in a minor tailspin. Not only because I should have said “well” instead of “good," but because it inevitably made me think, But am I really doing “good?"
To further exemplify how much I dreaded this exchange, I'll paint you a little picture of my almost-daily routines, and dodging tactics. I, myself, have been known to speed-walk to and from the kitchen to get my coffee, wait until well after standard "lunch time" to go grab my food, or intentionally run down to Starbucks to buy coffee (instead of taking advantage of the free Starbucks in the common area) to avoid having to rub elbows with a coworker.
That’s right, y’all. I am a grade-A. certified over-thinker, and proud (eeehhh... Am I?) of it.
Lately, it has become more commonplace to hear the idiom, “It’s okay to not be okay," which flipped a switch in my brain. As someone who has begun to accept this as a semi-regular mantra, I have also switched from dreading that office small-talk exchange to reveling in it. Because, guess what, my fellow over-thinkers/worriers?! Not only is it okay to not be okay, but it’s normal! You’re not the only one who is truly just “alright," and it’s totally fine to say that. Because:
- I can almost guarantee that your coworker isn’t really listening to your response—not even the sweetest one in the office.
- If they are listening, and you respond with, “I’m alright, how are you?” they most likely are going to be a little taken aback, since they were expecting the typical "Good" or, for all of you who can maintain grammar during stressful conversations, "Well"—and won’t want to pry into your personal life (except for that Nosy Nancy in your office, who will likely respond with some sort of “Just alright??” But, then the ball is in your court. You can let her know about everything that’s going on in your life—be careful, because it WILL get around—or, you can follow up with a “Yep!” or “Hanging in there!” and leave it at that).
- You’re getting your worry/hurt/whatever is weighing you down off your chest for a moment. You’re acknowledging it, and actually really moving on—without letting anyone else in—and that feels pretty great.
- They’re probably right there with you.
So, my dear cohorts—rejoice! We are no longer the outliers in the equation. We are the norm (WHAT), and we can finally speak out and get others to join us on this pretty twisted path.
As my grandpa put it, “Life isn’t always skittles and beer."
And that’s okay.
We can’t avoid it, we might as well accept it relish in it.