Friday, January 11, 2008

Better Than I Deserve

Today I was reading Just Shemley and he has been blogging about “Emotional Labor”…the term used to describe a form of emotional regulation used in corporations so that employees present a uniform “fake” emotion to all customers in order to stay consistent to an organizational rule or organization-wide emotion. As a society, we have adopted this behavior and use it daily when someone asks us the question “how are you?” We simply reply “fine thanks, and you?” Instead of being genuinely interested in how someone is or genuinely interested in telling someone how we are, we just find it easier to not be bothered.

As I was reading, I was reminded of when I worked in the tech industry. Before I was a writer, I was managing a building for the same company. I was usually one of the first people in the building and many times the last to leave at night. Several high level managers were also there early/late. One day, one of them changed my life.

Early in the morning as I walked by his office, he said “Hi Michelle, how are you?” Now, this is a very very busy man. Very busy.

I replied with the usual “fine thanks, how are you” and kept walking.

Then I hear “No…Michelle…come back…REALLY, HOW ARE YOU”?

Ashamed, I backed up and stopped at his office door. He asked me to come in and sit down. So I did. At that time he asked me again how I was and we started a conversation and a friendship that has carried on till this very day, years after we have stopped working together. I always look forward to having a conversation with him.

Some years later, I was introduced to the ministry of Dave Ramsey. For those of you who don’t know of him, Dave Ramsey has a radio program and a financial ministry called Financial Peace University. Hubby and I took his 13 week course many years ago after the purchase of our first home.

When someone asks Dave Ramsey “how are you”…he replies “Better than I deserve”. I always thought that this was a good response because it makes people ask “why?". Its not your typical response. The bible teaches that the blood of Christ is a covenant sign that God not treat our sins as they deserve to be treated. It says that the fullness of God’s wrath has already been cast on Christ and because of that we are spared. You can choose to believe it or not…but either way…that leaves us sittin’ pretty good don’t cha think? How cool is that?

But seriously, “Better than I deserve” is probably true for me most of the time (or all of the time biblically speaking) and I don’t mind being reminded of that…I am one lucky girl!

So when someone asks you “how are you?”…think about your response…you have many opportunities every single day to change your answer to something other than “fine thanks.”

I wish that as a society, we would just stop using the question. It just doesn't seem to make any sense that we'd keep asking a question that we can predict the answer to 99/100 times.


Sweets said...

good post... food for thought! as i was going through my divorce, one particular lady asked me how i was... and as much as i wanted to tell her how i really was... i knew she only wanted to hear... fine thanks and you... it's so true, most people don't really want to know... i especially hate it when people say...hi...and immediately proceed to say...good thanks...bye...good gracious me!

Kat Mortensen said...

I am frustrated by the way young people are trained in the customer service industry. It doesn't matter if it's early morning, late afternoon, evening or night - they will check you out with a "Have a good day!". How ludicrous is that?
We have even gone so far as to avoid saying "Please" for something and "Thank-you" upon completion. Now we say it all in one go. "Could you do such-and-such for me? Please and Thank you." How damn lazy are we?
We don't even say "Fine, thanks" all the time. We just say "Fine", or even "Good and you?" and then we move on to more important things.
Thanks for writing this Michelle. Your perspicacity astounds me. You always come up with thought-provoking ideas of importance. You must have an angel guiding you.
Thanks for reminding me I too am "Better than I deserve". Have you ever listened to Chuck Swindoll?

Michelle Hix said...

Many of the things I write about I'd normally be too chicken to write about. But if I see a challenge on another blog to write about a certain subject, for some reason, I can't pass it up. ha ha I do also have a friend that sends me ideas.