You probably have been asked the question, ‘How are you?’ a fair bit in life. On some occasions you may have wondered how to answer it.
It’s a classic, common question you hear when meeting someone for the first time. It’s a question someone uses to introduce themselves to you and start a conversation. It’s a question where your friends ask when you’re catching up.
There are different variations to ‘How are you?’. For instance people also say, ‘How are you doing?’, ‘What’s going on?’ and ‘What’s up?’ and mean the same thing.
Many tend to reply with ‘Good’, ‘Well’, ‘Not bad’ or ‘Fine, thanks’. These are short, stock-standard responses, pretty much formalities and what people expect to hear.
But perhaps you don’t want to respond with these plain answers all the time. Perhaps you want to be really honest with your answer. Maybe you want to add humor to your reply to trip others up and see how they react.
Here are 11 creative and witty ways to respond to ‘How are you?’. While some of these interesting responses work better in certain situations, it can be fun to keep all of them in mind.
1. ‘That’s a loaded question.’
On the surface ‘How are you?’ is a general, broad question that is open to interpretation. Is someone asking how you’re feeling right now? Or are they asking what have you been doing these past few years?
The question is often asked with good intentions. But it’s also a question that sizes you up. The person asking it might want to get to know you personally, drawing out a piece of you.
Words are powerful and the words your hear can shape your reality. Coming from those whom you know that genuinely care about your well-being, maybe you won’t think much of the question. But coming from a stranger or asked within a group ice-breaker setting, you might not know what to share openly on the spot about yourself.
2. ‘What do you mean?’
It’s such a broad question so why not prompt the other person to explain where are they coming from.
In return they might ask more specifically, ‘How’s your day?’ or what you had for breakfast or what you were up to a few moments ago.
3. ‘Fantastic! Like a shining star!’
You could be extremely optimistic in your response, all happy, loud and sharing your joy around. That’s not hard when you’re having a good day.
You can then watch the other person try their darndest to match your enthusiasm. An outgoing extrovert might have no problem responding equally chipper. After all, happiness is known to be contagious and has a ripple effect.
4. ‘I’m a weirdo.’
If you rarely fit in with others, this could be a fitting response to ‘How are you?’. As the odd one out on countless occasions, this could be the perfect description of you – literally telling the truth about yourself as you feel uncomfortable responding to someone’s question.
5. ‘So good to see you!’
You could be very excited to see the other person, such as a good friend. Bypass answering the question and show how greatful you are to see them. Putting the focus on others often makes them feel valued, seen and feel like they have meaning in their life.
Make the other person feel important and appreciate them. Make their day, have a good time together.
6. ‘I’m…umm… Oh wait, I don’t want you spreading rumours about me. So how are you?’
Avoid the question and ask the question back. You might want to keep to yourself when meeting people you don’t know well.
You just don’t know if they will misconstrue your words and create a problematic perception of you elsewhere. Maybe saying a simple ‘Fine’ is the best response.
7. ‘Existing. It’s pretty obvious.’
Similarly you could reply with, ‘Fine like the shining sun right now’ or ‘Fresh as this breeze’.
State the obvious around you. Given that so many of us live with nose to the grindstone, stating a fact about your surrounds might not be what they are expecting – and you could enlighten them about the world.
8. ‘Who do you think you are, stranger?’
It’s no one’s business how you are in a given moment in time. There’s no need to an answer if you don’t want to.
You might be fond of using this response if you don’t want to get too personal or want to move on with your day.
9. ‘I’m Chewbacca! Hakuna Matata!’
Pretend you’re a character or someone else for fun. If the other person goes along with it, chances are they are a good egg with a good sense of humour. You could have many laughs together after that.
10. ‘Do you really want to know? Can you handle the truth?’
Say this with glint of mischief in your eyes and tempt someone into getting to know you.
Say it deadpan if you’re having a bad day, giving them a sign you could emotionally unload on them. The other person might get the hint and be careful around you.
11. ‘Hello, stranger. Goodbye, stranger.’
If you really don’t want to answer ‘How are you?’ and don’t want a conversation, make it known bluntly. It’s perfect if you’re an introvert wanting alone time.
* * *
Most of these responses may seem biased towards turning someone away, like strategic on-hand exit responses during unwelcome, unexpected face-to-face or online interactions. They come naturally to my mind as I’m an introvert, prefer to keep my circle small and not keen on stereotypical small talk. Even with those I know, I don’t always want a chat and so don’t always welcome the question.
‘How are you?’ is a complicated question. As I’ve written similarly on ‘How To Answer Where Are You From?’, the question is not only open to interpretation but has layers of depth and the potential to unveil a character assessment (or assassination) of someone.
How we respond to the question depends on circumstances. Different situations call for different answers to ‘How are you?’. At work and occasions like interviews or presentations, formal responses tend to be more appropriate. When you’re hanging out with friends, colloquial responses are more natural.
In everyday social settings, arguably people who genuinely ask ‘How are you’ are offering you their time. Chances are they are wanting the best for you and hope you are well.
When someone asks you ‘How are you?’ and they warm towards your response, you’ll probably get along with them. You’ve probably found a like-minded person who accepts your response in good nature and shares some similarities with you. Interestingly enough, research has found we seek similarity in relationships, suggesting we’re drawn to like-minded people right at the start of relationships.
In addition, ‘How are you?’ can be a sensitive question, drawing attention to hierarchies and social inequalities. For example if English is your second language, answering ‘How are you?’ in English could be harder due to cultural barriers. There’s the challenge to get your point across in unfamiliar language and not offend.
When you’re going through a time of turbulent change, a rough patch or living in a pandemic for instance, it can be an unwelcome question. You might not be ready to open up about what you’re going through.
On the other hand, sometimes in these situations you just want someone to listen or reach out. ‘How are you?’ would then be a great segway to connect and help you feel better.
There’s no right or wrong way to respond to this greeting of a question. At the end of the day, each of us have our own choice in responding.
How do you respond to ‘How are you?’