Changing the way we respond to “How are you?” with Numbers!

A common stereotype of mathematicians is that they are socially awkward, and I often support that belief with the method in which I respond to casual greetings. In this case, I believe that I am on to something to help increase social interactions and better understand our fellow neighbors.

Most of the time when we are asked how we are doing, we respond with “good.” It does not matter if we are having a momentous day or if we are miserably sick. Rarely do we hear any detailed response unless we are with a close family member or friend. To facilitate a meaningful conversation as well provide accuracy to my current state of being, I answer in the form of a number. My scale is 1–10 with a 5.5 being in the middle. A response of a “seven” or a “four” gives much more clarity than the more frequent response of “good”.

Watch how we can change the greetings!

Since a 5.5 is the average, I am cognizant having many responses below a rating of a five. When I am having an off day and I respond with a “three” many people are very worried about me as to why my score is so low. I need to explain that a three is indeed below average but nothing major. I do not use the Olympic gymnastics scoring system where every score is in the nine to ten range.

I encourage you to help change the way we respond to “how are you?” and use a number system such as a 1–10. It will surprise and excite people, but might cause some to be less willing to ask you how you are doing in the future. 😊

Matthew Beyranevand

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I am “Math with Matthew,” Global Math Project Ambassador, Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council Member, & author of “Teach Math Like This, Not Like That.”