Have a nice day became so ubiquitous and so obnoxious from overuse that I swore I would strangle the next person that uttered those meaningless four words in an attempt to, what? – Be pleasant? Be familiar? Overreach and be annoying? This last unintentional communication is not true for everyone but for the “auditorys” among us, it became the reality.
There are many variations on the theme:
“Have a great day!”
“Have a Nice Day!”
“Have a wonderful weekend”
“Make it a great day”
“You (be sure to) have a nice day” (invoking “and who are you to tell me what to do?”)
And here’s a twist – when parting I heard, “Oh, will you do something for me?”, “Sure, what do you need?” (thinking there was a real request coming), “Be sure to have a good day”! This two part version nearly sent me over the edge.
I love the line from the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green when the husband says to the child “Have a good day (at school)” and the wife replies, “Oh that’s too much pressure on him!” So the husband comes back with, “Have the day that you will have” Isn’t that a more accurate portrayal of what we mean, reflecting reality, if not our actual wishes. Ca sera sera.
At this point in language development “Have a nice day” has been relegated to the totally expected and is at the point of no longer being actually heard. So it is not longer obnoxious or even a genuine sentiment – it’s just something not unpleasant to say when leaving. In fact, it has become so expected as just something to say that is unconsciously missed if it is not said. And the correct response back, of course, is the obligatory “you too” which is similarly expected and not really heard.
“Have a nice day” is going the way of the now old-fashioned “How do you do?” which was also once genuine, then became expected (no longer a real question, with an honest answer not desired, as no one really wants to know about the other person’s health ailments), then became unheard (i.e. the proper reply back to “How do you do?” is the same rhetorical question back “How do you do?”).
So how do you really wish somebody well, when you want to make the sentiment genuine and not trite? If you give it some good thought, you could develop some original material so the cliché is not invoked and your words are actually heard:
“It’s such a lovely day – I hope you’ll be enjoying the rest of it”
“Enjoy a few moments all to yourself today”
“I hope you are planning to add some fun to the rest of your day”
“What a wonderful day it is– enjoy!”
COMMUNICATION TAKEAWAY: Much of our verbal language falls into habitual patterns that are easily delivered, needing little thought process. While this communication is not meaningful, it’s easy, fairly pleasant, and doesn’t hurt anyone, so why not? To stand out and be meaningful, giving just a little thought, expending a little extra mental energy, delivered with a genuine degree of caring, can really brighten up the regular monotony of someone’s day. So why not?