“Hola. Comó está?”
I found myself saying this a lot while in Honduras. It was difficult at first, but when you’re asked that by everyone, it becomes much easier to start asking as well.
Contrary to the culture in the states, everyone I met in Honduras treated us as friends (contrary to being treated as outsiders). We were welcomed into houses, spoken to, and joked with–as if we already knew each other.
No one was left out, not even us strangers. Community members found ways to make you feel welcome in their community, even if it was through a simple “comó está?”
It made me feel great. People cared about how I was doing. If I felt hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit everyday), they would joke about it. If I said I was tired, they’d respond with “yo también,” and laugh it off. If I was hungry, they’d say “don’t worry, lunch is soon.”
All their responses were genuine!
It was soon when I began asking “comó está?” to everyone. It was well-received. A simple “bueno” and a smile. A smile! Here all I wanted was a “bueno.”
Upon returning to the states, the habit stuck. I actually asked someone “comó está?” Except they didn’t understand. Sorry.
But I continued to greet strangers with,
“Hi. How are you?”
If you were to ask that to 10 strangers today, what do you think the ratio of responses would be? Honestly, I’m sure it’d be pretty good.
It isn’t common to ask strangers how they’re doing. It’s a simple concept, but not often put into action.
People aren’t even given the opportunity to respond positively. Likewise, they also don’t feel welcome to ask you how you are. Maybe it’s just the culture, but I personally don’t like that kind of culture, where a community is difficult to find.
Try it out, ask a stranger how they’re doing, or how their day is going. You might be waiting in line at Starbucks, or on your lunch break, or at a stoplight. Just turn to someone, smile and say,
“Hi. How are you?”
And be genuine, because you’re hoping for them to be genuine with you, right?
It’s not about being shy or being outgoing or being a people person. It’s about welcoming others to have a genuine interaction with you, even if for a minute.