It takes effort to keep meaning in the things we say. Greetings, salutations, even protestations of love become more of a habit than expressions of our feelings.
As Americans we pretty much use the phrase “how are you” as a substitute for hello. We toss it out as we walk past someone and don’t actually expect or even wait for an answer.
Salutations have become non-descript as well. I actually think about salutations all the time, I look for them at the end of all the correspondence I get and I often spend a good 30 seconds or more trying to figure out the proper one to use when I write people.
In business correspondence I often use “respectfully yours.” I like the message it implies. In personal correspondence I often close with “take care.” These days, however, the majority of people don’t use salutations at all. They just end it, kind of feels like they hung up a phone call without saying goodbye.
A lot of couples end phone conversations with “I love you” rather than goodbye. Right after I separated from my husband, I accidentally found myself hanging up from a contentious phone call saying “love ya.” Thing was, I didn’t love him anymore, it was just such a habit to end a call with that phrase that I didn’t even think about it. I love you had come to mean goodbye.
It is easy to spend so much time inside our own heads that we walk through life on automatic pilot, tossing out habitual phrases without thinking – greeting a group of women with “hey guys,” calling a co-worker “dude” or “girl,” adding “you know” or “like” into every sentence.
A little thought behind the words you use goes a long way to endear you to others. People will feel they are important if every time you say “how are you?” you wait for a response. “I love you” will maintain far more meaning if you only use it when you can really connect with the other person. Your co-workers will have a sense of recognition if you use their name instead of a generic characterization. A thank you given with emphasis and direct eye contact expresses far more appreciation than one casually tossed out as you run out the door.
Certainly you are going to like appear far more intelligent if you like leave out habitual throw away words, you know dude.