Malek's Moorish Tales

Meanderings about life and technology

regular meaningless expressions revisited ....

right now, I am working on a project in France. Although being in France is not the most thrilling experience I can think of... by far! I still have the chance to be working with some very smart people, and the conversations we`re having are of certain interest.

One conversation I had with Minh was quite illuminating...

One coworker came around and asked "ça va ?" ("How are you ?"), and I automatically responded "ça va!" ( "I`m doing fine! thank you"). It might have been the way I said it, or maybe he was really making the point I am trying to make here. Anyhow, Minh just went "huh? Does anyone ever respomd to that question any differently ?". We had a good lough as I went about the fact that it actually does happen that somebody actually responds to the question and says something like "Well, I am not doing so good. this and that are wrong yada yada yada..."

Thinking about it a little more, since the only way I had ever thought about it was in very general terms, and that we are here talking about work relationships, it came to me that the very generic exchange can actually play a role. It doesn`t touch close because in my situation in the current project things are going at least as good as I wanted them to. Actually probably much better than I could have hoped for. Still, I am quite convinced that, even though responding any different from the way I did would have been a shocking experience for the guy, he actually was (at least possibly was) trying to get a feel of how things were going in the project....

So was my answer the right way to respond? Assuming he was curious about how the project was going, I probably should have answered that things were doing great. Possibly even stating that it was much better than expected.

Another possible assumption would be that the guy is worried about my role in the said project being a single point of failure for the near term of the project, and was worrying about my capacity to carry on, and thus about my health and morale, and my answer should have been reassuring that I am in good health and that the distance from my family is not an issue at the moment.

So, when asked how you are doing, I recommend actually answering the question, even if you cause some lough, as it might be meaningful to the person asking the question..... 

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