Hello, how are you doing? In America we ask this question of pretty much anybody, even if we don’t really want to know how they are doing. Why? The reason why is; because, in America part of being polite is actually being friendly. In America being friendly is just a part of life, and if you live in the South part of America, it’s not just a part of life, it’s a necessary part of life. In America you don’t really need an introduction to start a conversation. Some people start talking to each other even if they are complete strangers. Depending on where you live some areas of America are more friendly, and some areas of America are less friendly, but wherever you live, friendliness is still a very import part of American culture.
Let me give you an every-day example. Imagine that you are walking your dog in your neighborhood or on a path in the woods and you meet another person; you must always make eye contact and say, “Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, hello, how are you doing,” or even, “How ya doin’?” You don’t have to know the person; you don’t have to stand and talk, but you at least need to say hello.
If you are in a store and you want to buy your groceries, the cashier will always greet you, say hello, and ask you how you are doing. Remember to always answer this question in a positive way, even if you’re having a terrible day and everything is going wrong. It’s just a formality; the cashier doesn’t really want to know how you are actually doing. The cashier is asking you out of politeness. If you know the person well, of course you can be honest, but in situations like this where an absolute stranger asks how you’re doing, always answer in a positive way.
Here are some examples of some positive answers you can give: I am doing well, thank you. Or, you can take out the “I am” and just say, “doing well, doing good, doing ok,” or even, “Not bad.” Remember that you must always return the question like this, “Hello, how are you?”
“I am doing well, thank you. How are you?” “Not bad.”
The cashier might even start doing some small-talk, and this is not just the cashier, this could be any person you’re doing a business transaction with. The cashier might ask you about the weather, or make a comment about something that you bought, or mention something about how busy the store is. You could even ask the cashier a question, or if you notice that things seem to be very busy in the store you can say, “Busy day?” And the cashier might answer, “Oh yeah it’s been crazy,” And then you would start to have a conversation. You do not have to know the cashier for this to be polite and it can be a very fun experience for both you and the other party.
In America there is this idea of customer service, or the customer is always right, meaning that the business owner or employee must always treat the customer with the utmost respect, even if the customer is not behaving in a respectful or positive way.
This small part of American culture is true in a larger way as well. In America you must never express your anger publicly. You must never yell; you must never raise your voice.
So, in America if someone becomes angry in public, they must remain calm. They can speak strongly, but they must do so in a way that is calm and that is very controlled. If someone in America loses control or starts yelling at someone else it is seen as very socially unacceptable and is very frowned upon in American culture.
That is just something important to remember; because, different cultures have different feelings about raising one’s voice in public. In America it is never O.K. to raise your voice in public in anger.