Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Social Scripts

Everybody has been a part of this little dialog:

"How are you doing?"
"Fine, how are you?"
"I'm good, thanks."
"Glad to hear it."
And then both people go on about their day.

The question is - what happens when you don't follow the script? What if you are not fine? The script is not so much about checking in on each other as it is about acknowledging each other. Even if you are not fine, you expect to say "I'm fine."

Laura was telling me about talking to a friend who opened this script and for some reason Laura admitted that she was not fine. This was not one of her close friends, it was just someone. When she told me about it, I remembered an experience in high school where I had a good friend start this script, and I could not bring myself to mask the fact that I was not fine. Her response created one of my favorite memories from high school. It left me feeling like I was still okay even when I was not feeling okay.

Laura's experience was much the same. I would say that she is now better friends with this particular woman than she was previously - because of the wonderful response she got. She felt that she was understood, and that it was okay to not be "fine" all the time. It just reminds me, once again, that people are amazing, and they care even when we might not expect them to really care.

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