By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

My mother lived with me in her last years. We enjoyed her sense of humor. Here’s part of what made me realize how useless the phrase, “Hi, how are you?” really is.

The house phone rang. Esther answered.

The man says, “Hi, Mrs. Friedman, this is Dan from XXX. How are you?”

My mother says – without missing a beat, “I’m so glad you called. I have a bad case of diarrhea, a terrible migraine, been vomiting all day, my pacemaker is running slower than normal, and I have a bad rash. How are you?”

He said, “Well, compared to you, a hell of a lot better” and hung up.

Point being, “Hi, how are you” is semi-useless especially to those we don’t even know. I’ve seen folks pass in the halls, in a mall, in an office, everywhere. One says, “Hi, how are you?” The other says, “Fine, how are you?” No one stops; they’re still walking and nothing was accomplished.

I’ve removed “Hi, how are you” from my vocabulary. It’s been replaced with any one of these phrases and I share them with you:

  • Good to see you.
  • Hi, you’re looking well.
  • Thanks for being here.
  • You look super.
  • Nice to hear your voice. (On phone)
  • I’m glad you called. (On phone)
  • You’re sounding great. (On phone)

 There are more. I just got the ball rolling. Anything but “Hi, how are you?”

 I’ve changed my mind. It’s not semi-useless; it is useless.

 Watch what happens when you change your tune. People start really listening to you.

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Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is a featured keynote speaker and subject matter expert on customer service, engagement opportunities and communications skills at franchise, association and corporate meetings.

Nancy has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and hundreds of other radio and TV shows. She has been published in Wall Street Journal with her column, “Don’t Strike Out with Your Customers.”

The author of eight books on sales, communications skills and customer service, Nancy is a subject matter expert on these topics. She is the spokesperson in the popular Telephone Doctor customer service training programs.

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers.