Originally Posted by horatio
The problem of political correctness is that it is too blunt and direct. Ordinary politeness often works indirectly. Take the example of apologizing, the usual response is something like "no harm done, you have nothing to apologize for". Obviously this isn't literally true, of course there was something to apologize for, but the pretense serves to protect the relationship.
"How are you?" is also such a sincere lie. If you took it literally an appropriate response would be "that's none of your business" but the point is again to insert some form of excess friendliness into it. Even tough everybody knows that it is not a sincere question it does the trick, it works better as a greeting phase than a mere hello.
Polite: Good morning/afternoon/evening
Sincere lie: How are you?
Politically correct: Mello greetings (full name)