The phrase ‘how are you?’ is a typical conversation starter, yet so many people give one basic answer all their life. It is a broader dialogue starter, as the answers range from too personal to as vague as they can get.
The question ‘how are you?’ enables the respondent to steer whichever question to the direction they wish to make the exchange. If another person asks this question, they try to get your attention and gauge whether you are ready to share their topics with them.
The past period of self-isolation due to covid took a toll on people’s basic communication skills. When you should neither be too subtle in your answer to ‘how are you?’, nor should you be too eager to spill all your beans.
Here are some thoughts on the best ‘how are you?’ answers in different scenarios.
‘How are you?’ when saying hello between formal strangers
Ordinarily, strangers ask you how are you as hello, which they follow with today or lately. A good example is when a cashier is processing your payment at the convenience store. The question makes small talk flow easily, unlike a basic hi or hello.
The best way to reply to the question depends on your mood. If you are ready to continue with small talk, give a quick positive answer and divert your attention elsewhere. A good example is, ‘I am great, thank you for asking.’ The answer is a polite way for ending the conversation as it invites comfortable silence.
If you are in the mood to engage in small talk, give an answer that may dive a little into the conversation about the environment. An example is in a sentence,’ I am fine, it has been a hustle at the meat section though.’ Another reply;’ I am fine, I’m enjoying the weather.’
‘How are you?’ at the workplace
Colleagues are a bit familiar, as you share time as well as a working space. The ‘how are you’ answer to a colleague could go as follows:
Worker 1; ‘How are you?’
Worker 2; ‘I’m good, thanks. I didn’t miss the bus today.’The answer is pretty positive and allows the flow of conversation. If you don’t offer additional information, you could answer by saying, ‘I’m great, thanks. How about you?’
If the conversation is between a worker and their boss, the answers should be short and positive.
Mr. A; ‘Hello, How are you today?’
Ms. B: ‘Great, thanks. How are you?’
Mr. A.: I am well.
‘How are you’ answer to friends and familiar
When you unintentionally encounter your friends and family, the idea is to answer thoughtfully yet giving information.
Friend 1: How are you?
Friend 2: I am great. I am on the way to my niece’s party. How about you? How are you?
Friend 1: I am fine, thanks. Say hey to her and the family. I’ll give you a call.
If the conversation happens when you intentionally meet, the question is a genuine probe into your situation. Give an elaborated answer, but answer the question first.
Friend 1: How are you? The question is sincere, and the person welcomes you to continue speaking.
Friend 2: I am good, thanks. I got into a new book club.
Proceed to details after the statement. The best way to answer the question in an intentional setting is to be genuine despite the type of information. If you are feeling ill or terrible, here’s how the how are you answer goes:
Brother 1: How are you?
Brother 2: I am fine, thanks. (Show, you are okay but not very optimistic.) My new job is draining me.
Whichever the situation is, always be vulnerable with friends and family.
‘How are you?’ answer to romantic potentials
Sometimes, we meet new people from the internet where we wish to pursue romantic interests. Alternatively, it is the first meeting with a person you like, and the conversation is very delicate and could take a different turn quite fast.
In such a situation, the ‘how are you’ answer should be answered with wit or extraordinarily. A good example:
Person 1: How are you today?
Person 2: Much better now that you are with me.
The answer is short, easy, and expected. The conversation will be flirtier or funnier after this response, which releases the first-date awkwardness. The key with dates is to have fun, so learn to give humorous answers until you feel familiar enough for vulnerability.
‘How are you?’ answer to familiar professionals
When you are on a routine check-up with your doctor or the tailor, answering how you are is a great way to know each other better. If you are comfortable sharing your information, you could share what you want from the last time you both met.
Doctor: So, How are you?
Patient: I’m well, thanks. My team won the game last week, and we celebrated a bit too much.
Doctor: Haha, I’m glad you are having fun.
‘How are you?’ answer to simple hellos
Most of the time, people hanging out in friend groups won’t keep repeating hello as they interact. How are you is an easy way to say hello, which is a better way to approach people than primary hey or hi.
When a person engages you with the question, the ‘how are you’ answer depends on the amount of information you are willing to divulge.
‘I am well, thank you.’ It shows you are in good condition, but the conversation will be so shallow afterward. You could also proceed with everyday topics such as recent games, music, the newest movie in the cinema, and others.
‘I am great. How are you?’ It shows you are perfectly okay in continuing with a more intimate conversation with the other person.
‘I am fine, thanks’ This Shows you are just okay, but you don’t mind being vulnerable with the person.
The ‘how are you’ answer genuinely depends on the one asking, but the ball is in your court to divulge the conversation as you please. I hope these few exchanges give a little insight.