Everyone has pet peeves that make them irritated; one of mine is using the word “fine” as a complete response to a question. Think about someone you know who uses the word fine regularly. Is it possible that they use the word so “Feelings Inside are Not Expressed?” Or is it because they are, according to Aerosmith, “Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional?” Whatever the reason, I encourage freedom from fine. The word masks true feelings, distances people from each other and is an easy way to avoid conversation. I like to think of the word as Forgotten, Invisible, Nonexistent, and Exiled.
There are many alternatives to fine that are more meaningful. If fine is used in a satisfactory sense, some synonyms to consider include “acceptable” and “adequate”. If used to express a slight dislike for something, the word “mediocre” has milestones of more meaning.
What if you’re actually feeling either exceptionally great or really awful. An “I’m fine” or “that’s fine” response to the question “how are you?” or “how do you feel about __” can leave others clueless as to how you really feel. Sharing your true feelings through better word choice will increase your ability to connect with others.
Playing devils advocate, if you really don’t want to have a conversation, “fine” is the perfect solution. It closes the door to communication. In that sense, the word does have a purpose. However, as a psychiatrist, I find there to be little value in using words with ambiguous or no meaning.
This is the first of several posts about carefully choosing words in order to appropriately convey your thoughts to others.