Greetings can range from a casual “hi” to a desperate embrace by a father just back from a long deployment. We learn at an early age how to say hi, how are you? It’s one of the first words we memorize when we study a foreign language. Hi, my name is Julie. How are you? I’m fine, thank you. Learning how to greet people is how we learn to be polite.
The best greetings I get in life are from children and the dog. The dog tends to be more consistent. It doesn’t matter how long I have been gone. A trip to the mailbox is enough to warrant the same type of exuberant greeting that I get when I pick her up at the Kennel after ten days. Her body is alive with enthusiasm, the tail is wagging so hard it’s barely visible, and she is emitting a high-pitched sound that in the human language would be “you’re back, you’re here!!!”
Greetings have become awkward during Covid. To hug or not to hug? And when we say we are fine, are we fine?
I have learned through the years how to reply to greetings. If someone asks “how are you doing, okay?” They want you to say okay and I say okay. If they ask “how are you doing?” They really want to know how you are doing and I will tell them.
Although the dog is the quintessential greeter, she never asks me how am I doing. She leaves that for the humans in my life. One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is to really care how someone is doing and actively listen to their response. It’s no small thing.