You’ve probably heard the phrase “what’s your deal” at least once if you live in an English speaking country. But what does this phrase actually mean, and how are you supposed to respond to it? In this post, we will answer both of these questions.
What Does “What’s Your Deal” Mean?
“What’s your deal” is used to ask someone about their situation. It can be used to ask what their story is, but it is often used as a synonym to “what’s wrong with you” when someone offends. In either situation, “what’s your deal” asks for information on a person’s situation.
“What’s your deal” is slang that can have several different meanings, based almost entirely on context and inflection. Sometimes, it is used as a means to invite someone to share with you: when meeting a stranger, you may say “what’s your deal?” as means of asking for an introduction.
However, “what’s your deal” is also used aggressively in many cases, synonymous with “what’s wrong with you?”. Say that you accidentally knocked someone over while walking in the street. Irritated by this, they may ask “what’s your deal?” in an aggressive tone, essentially asking what your problem is.
This makes it impossible to know what the phrase means if it stands alone. The context surrounding the phrase in any given situation changes its meaning. However, it is always used to inquire about someone’s situation.
Is “What’s Your Deal” Slang?
In the sense that a word took on a new meaning unrelated to the original (deal, in this case), yes, “what’s your deal” is slang. After all, if taken literally, the phrase would make no sense whatsoever. A word or phrase that has taken on a new meaning irrespective of its original definition is slang.
However, this phrase has been around for a long time, and while it is slang, its meaning is mostly universally understood, at least in American English.
What to Answer to “What’s Your Deal”
Because “what’s your deal” can mean many different things depending on context, there is no one right answer to the question. It all depends on what the person asking the question meant in the first place. That means there are several potential answers. More importantly, there are no specific answers.
“What’s your deal” is not like “thank you”, which has an expected exact answer such as “you’re welcome.” There is no exact phrase with which to respond to “what’s your deal”, because it all depends on what the asker meant and what you, the answerer, actually want to say.
We’ll go into detail down below.
Introduce Yourself/Provide Exposition
In some cases, someone may ask “what’s your deal” as a means of inquiring about you. In such a case, your answer can be anything you wish to share about your situation.
Say that you meet a stranger, they introduce themselves, then ask “what’s your deal?”.
Your answer can be anything you wish to share as an introduction for yourself. You could say where you are from, what you do for a living, or whether or not you like your living situation. There is no specific answer to this question because it is open-ended, not asking for a particular response.
Here are some examples of how these types of conversations would likely go:
- So, what’s your deal?
- Oh, I just moved here from Nebraska!
- You’re new around here: what is your deal?
- I just got assigned to this sector by the boss.
It’s possible that someone might ask “what is your deal” after you accidentally inconvenience or offend them. If you did not intend to do so, apologizing and explaining why the situation occurred is a valid answer.
Please refer to the conversation examples below:
- Hey, what’s your deal?!
- Sorry, I didn’t mean to bump into you.
- That was so rude to say, what’s your deal?
- I apologize, I wasn’t thinking straight.
Defend Your Actions
Somebody may be upset with you for something you did, and ask “what’s your deal?”. But if you aren’t apologetic about it, that’s obviously not the right answer.
If you believe what you did was justified, you can say as much in a response. Here are some examples:
- You hit me! What’s you deal?!
- You asked for it, you were insulting my mother!
- What is your deal, making an offensive joke like that?
- I don’t care what you think, I thought it was funny.
Actually Say What Your Deal Is
If someone asks what your deal is, then obviously, an appropriate answer would be to tell them. This is especially true if the asker says “what’s your deal?” as in “what’s your problem?”. A valid answer is to actually tell them the problem.
- You’re always so antagonistic towards me. What’s your deal?
- I never forgot how you bullied me in elementary school.
- It was just a joke, so what’s your deal?
- My “deal” is how insensitive and offensive your joke was.
Deflect the Question
If someone is asking you “what’s your deal” in the context of asking about your life situation or story, but you aren’t comfortable with answering that, you can always deflect the question with something vague or nondescript. This is much in the same way that people rarely honestly answer “how are you?”.
- I’ve never seen you around here. What’s your deal?
- Oh, you know, just trying to make a living.
- I haven’t heard much about you before. What’s your deal?
- Nothing much. I’m just an ordinary guy.
What’s Your Deal – Synonyms
“What’s you deal” can have many different meanings based on context. In order to avoid confusion, you can use the following synonyms for “what’s your deal.”
These synonyms are clearer about what they are asking and leave little room for misinterpretation:
- What’s your problem?
- What’s happening with you?
- What’s going on in your life?
- What’s wrong with you?
- What is the matter with you?
Of course, you have to make sure you use the right synonym for the right context. If you were saying “what’s you deal” in an aggressive manner, with the intent to ask someone what their problem was, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use the synonym “what’s happening with you?”.
If you want to know which synonym is ideal for your needs, just ask yourself what you are really trying to say. Are you asking about them, or are you questioning their negative behavior or actions? “What’s your deal” can be used in either situation, but the synonyms can only be used in one or the other.
What’s your deal is slang that can be used either as a means of asking about someone’s situation (what’s up with you?) or as a way to confront someone over their behavior or actions (what’s your problem?). Context is important to understand which meaning is being used.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.