He wondered why this should be, why the things this woman was saying should delight him so, particularly when he barely understood them. He knew very well that the great majority of human conversation is meaningless. A man can get through most of his days on stock answers to stock questions, he thought. Once he catches on to the game, he can manage with an assortment of grunts. This would not be so if people listened to each other, but they don't. They know that no one is going to say anything moving and important to them at that very moment. Anything important will be announced in the newspapers and reprinted for those who missed it. No one really wants to know how his neighbor is feeling, but he asks him anyway, because it is polite, and because he knows that his neighbor certainly will not tell him how he feels. What this woman and I say to each other is not important. It is the simple making of sounds that pleases us.
Excerpt from A Fine & Private Place
by Peter S. Beagle
I often find myself in this place too.
I do not require depth of conversation with my Lieutenant. I am pleased with only hearing his voice.
Perhaps it is the separation we now endure that causes me to think in this manner. For the now I am pleased to hear his grunts.
Mei Lian, :-). Hopefully you won't need to endure the separation for long.
Hey Keri :) Glad to see your site here
"No one really wants to know how his neighbor is feeling, but he asks him anyway, because it is polite, and because he knows that his neighbor certainly will not tell him how he feels"
I often think of the things that we do for the sake of politeness, particularly the way we greet one another. For me personally, since I work in a retail environment, I get the chance to observe and in turn analyze many, many of these on a daily basis from both customers and co-workers alike.
One of my "pet peeves" has always been those who feel the need to ask "How are you?" as the equivalent in my mind of just saying "hi" or "hello" because most (and yes there are exceptions) people who ask that are expecting a "Good, how are you doing?" or something to that effect in return. And it has been my experience that when you do in fact give that normal, expected response, the majority of folks don't actually answer your question but instead choose to ignore you and continue on their way. This in my mind is just even more evidence to suggest that most folks really don't want to know how you're doing, and in their own weird way are actually just saying "hi" I suppose...I also suspect that some of these same people actually would really prefer not to greet you at all (which would be fine with me) and are doing so because they feel obligated. Speaking for myself, I actually prefer a simple "hi " or "hello", but non-verbal communication is my favorite. When I pass people, I "usually" will try and make eye contact and then give just a simple nod and smile and hope that it is reciprocated :)
Any thoughts/comments ?
Hey Zeri, I'm really sorry about getting your name wrong, guess I just saw what I wanted to or what was familiar to me maybe, I dunno. Sorry :/
Hi, Jim, thanks for the thoughtful comments. I agree with all of your points. We say things out of habit much of the time, and not because we mean it. I think it would be good to mean it -- to make sure that we do. As for nonverbal ways of expressing yourself, I also agree; done well, nonverbal gestures can signify a lot.
Thanks again for writing.
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