In the history of conversation, nobody has ever been “fine”

During a recent keynote at a conference for the International Association of Workforce Professionals, I spent several minutes telling the audience about one of the most horribly overused words in the English language: fine.

“After looking up the word ‘fine’ in 23 different dictionaries, I noticed that it was never listed!” I joked with the audience.

“Upon further research, it was brought to my attention that ‘fine’ was actually an acronym for…”


“Why? Because nobody’s fine! In the history of conversation, nobody has ever been fine. People only say “fine” to shield how they really feel and, more often than not, avoid conversation.”

After a brief moment of head nodding and chuckling, my audience spent some time practicing various front porch behaviors that helped them avoid “fine” and become more personally available. You may have read about one of these techniques before called Giving Flavored Answers to Fruitless Questions.

A few hours after the keynote, a woman from the audience stopped off at my booth to tell the following story:

“After your speech about 10 of us went out to lunch. When the waitress came over to introduce herself I asked, ‘How are you?’ to which she replied, ‘F.I.N.E.’ All 10 of us nearly spit out our sodas we were laughing so hard. It was great! I don’t think any of us will think about that word the same way again!”


When someone says, “fine,” what does that mean to you?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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