11 Creative Ways To Answer ‘How Are You?’

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.

Confused Face

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.

Confused Face

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.

Confused Surprise Face

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.

Happy Face

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.

Confused Happy Face

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?’

208 thoughts on “11 Creative Ways To Answer ‘How Are You?’

  1. Hi Mabel, Nice to hear from you. I suspect tone and inflection of voice also makes a difference with this question. You make a great point how responses work better “in certain situations.” I like #5. I used to say these words when I was seeing patients and co-workers. Also, a nice way to end a meeting. Another great point about “offering you their time.” A gift. Thanks for sharing a great post. By the way….how are you? 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • That is a great point, Erica. The tone and inflection both can influence how we respond to ‘How are you?’. I think #5 is probably the most friendly out of the lot. It is lovely that you said that to patients and co-workers. I am sure they always appreciated your presence and help. Hehe I see what you did there…been busy doing some writing over here 😄 Hope you have been well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Mabel for a fun and thoughtful review of this classic question. Yes, it’s a complicated question loaded with possibilities and challenges. I try to gauge if the person is sincere about the question and how deep real they are interested in. And other times, I deflect if I’m not interested in sharing or don’t believe they want a real answer.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Someone recently posted that right now, none of us are doing very well and proposed that we change the question to, “Are you hanging in there?” which at least acknowledges the crappiness of this year.
    Last year my response was often, “As well as can be expected when trapped at home with my wakeful child and his boundless energy while a malignant narcissist attempts to turn our Republic into a white supremacist dictatorship.” Some people thought that was TMI, but you’re right, it is a rather intrusive question. I enjoyed your funny deflection suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Last year was definitely upside down, and this year seems to be a continuation of that. Can definitely see why people aren’t a fan of ‘How are you?’ lately. I like the honesty in your response – sums up the real reality of many of us stuck at home. Things have been pretty great for me over the last year, and when I respond how things have been great…oh my, the shock in other people’s faces. I wish I had kept my mouth shut. It is a very sensitive question as your respond can really rile up other’s emotions.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So nice to see a new blog post from you my friend! I laughed at the Chewbacca answer! I would love to answer as Chewie or try his cute growl in response. I typically just say good how are you even if I’m not so good. If it is a stranger I don’t want to go into personal matters. If it’s a close friend, I will probably be more truthful. This was such an interesting blog post idea! Cannot wait to see you soon xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is nice to see you my friend! I also like the Chewbacca answer a lot and think it’s funny. Chewie himself would be so happy to use it. Always good to change your response depending on who you are talking too. Miss you my friend and catch up very soon x


  5. Those are some pretty creative answers, but what I want to know is, have you tried any of them yet? 😉

    I don’t mind the question as I see it as a greeting and a nice well-meaning one at that. And for my Thai students, it’s a way for them to express they are engaging in the culture of English and vice versa. Many teachers teach different and creative ways to answer. One of my colleagues insisted that her Ss answer in the positive affirmative. And I thought this was a good way to get them out of mumbling ‘fine’.

    Normally, because I’m a smart ass, when my fellow teachers ask me, I say, “I’m here [insert name]. I’m here. What more do you want?”

    P.S. cute photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I have tried a few of them, the ones appropriate for when I am not looking for a conversation 😀

      That is great the question is a way for your Thai students to express they are engaging in the culture of English. Maybe some of them have some clever responses.

      LOL your response to your fellow teachers is so sassy. Love it 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Definitely a loaded question, especially in western culture. All too often people ask this rhetorically, which – ironically – I find quite rude because the question itself implies an attempt to be polite. Depending on the person asking and the circumstances, I wish people would sit down to really have the time to hear me answer them honestly.

    Because of this tendency for people in western culture to not ask this question sincerely, I’ve had people ask me the question then a moment later ask ‘okay, now how are you *really* going?’ Those rare cases where people genuinely care for me I’ve really appreciated.

    It’s been a while since we’ve heard from you Mabel, so I ask in all sincerity – how are you going? (: I hope you had a nice Easter weekend of rest or whatever it is you enjoy doing (writing? relaxing?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a good point, that some people ask the question rhetorically. I have encountered people where they start of with ‘How are you going?’. Before I can say a word and without a beat, they jump to talking about something else altogether. And I just go along with that something else they are talking about. It makes such a conversation like a transaction. Nothing wrong with that, but yeah, it’s a rhetorical question alright – like a sign to grab someone’s attention regarding a matter. Not sure if this is rhetorical way of greeting is exclusive to Australians, but I guess it happens elsewhere too.

      It is nice to get some people who genuinely are interested in your well-being, Simon. They sound like good people to have around. It always is nice to have these kinds of people around and have honest chats.

      Lol, that is great time to ask how I am. You might be pleased to hear I am doing book writing full steam ahead. It is an exciting time. Now I might also take the opportunity to ask, and if you are willing to answer, how are you over there, Simon? 🙂


      • That’s exactly what I’m referring to! Without skipping a beat – without even giving you a chance to respond – they launch into whatever it is they want to say. That, to me, says that the question is completely not genuine and is only being said because of social convention rather than any care from the person asking it.

        I doubt this behaviour is exclusive to Australians but I only really noticed this habit here… although that may just be a product of having lived most of my life here anyway.

        I think I’ve mentioned before that putting others before ourselves is part of how we’re designed to be, and life works for the best that way. (:

        Nice to hear that your writing is going well. Has it always been the same book that you’ve been working on? Or have you had a bunch of ideas that you’ve been working on concurrently?

        I answer as how I normally answer when I have this question: not much changes for me. That can be both positive and negative. But you may recall that I said a few months ago that I was moving work teams – that happened a month ago to the day and things have been going well so far. And I’m due back in the office two days a week starting next Monday (I was in the office for one day a couple of weeks ago, first time since restrictions started last year, it felt strangely familiar and unfamiliar at the same time).

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think it happens a lot, that people launch into what they want to really say after saying ‘How are you?’. So it’s really more a greeting than a question, and strips away the meaning and essence of the question. Personally I’ve never gotten used to this. Having spent a lot of time in Asia, ‘How are you?’ was rarely a form on a greeting here except among friends and family. In Asia, it is not common to get greeted at ‘How are you?’ at, say, supermarket checkouts – and that’s because it’s generally considered unsafe talking to any stranger. Here in Australia I tend to take ‘How are you?’ very literally here, even if it’s coming from a stranger and then get taken by surprise when they just ramble on. So I guess in short, there are cultural differences surrounding the question.

          Yes, we’ve certainly talked about others before ourselves. Our cultural background or faith can influence that to a large degree.

          I started writing my book about 7-8 years ago. Initially there was a draft which I didn’t like at all. Sometime in 2019 I restarted writing the book seriously again. Then I decided to take a break from writing. I liked what I wrote in 2019, so right now I’m picking up where I’ve left off with an outline of chapters. In between I’ve also been reading around on what makes a good book and how to write a good book. Quite a process 😂

          That is amazing your new role is going well for you. Very happy for you. Hopefully you get to settle in back to the office, get things done and also interact with the team. Sounds like you had a good routine going for you WFH, which is hopefully here to stay. I actually like your response, not much change. Seems like a neutral response without giving too much away.


          • That’s a good point – because the phrase has been so commonly (mis-)used simply as a greeting in itself instead of an actual question, for some (perhaps for those for whom English is not their first language) it is used innocently without intending any disrespect. Ah, the wonders of language that is constantly ‘evolving’.

            I’m not sure if you commented on it specifically elsewhere, if not here, but how do those in Asian cultures greet each other? Presumably there’s no equivalent of this ‘how are you?’ because of the cultural differences. It reminds me of my introduction to Indigenous Aussies – I was taught that trust and familiarity is built up with proximity and time, not through asking of personal questions. Approaching a newcomer but not saying anything might be considered rude in Western culture, but I’m given to understand that it’s a polite way of introducing oneself in Indigenous culture (at least for some peoples, I suppose, and clearly not for those who haven’t been influenced by Western culture in the first place).

            So writing a book is not just about having the right or useful content but also presenting it in a good way. I can imagine it’s a lot of work! I suppose there’s more flexibility on ‘what’s best’ for fiction as opposed to non-fiction (which I think is what you’re working on…?)

            Well, usually it is truthful for me. Often I feel down because things that I hope to change don’t happen. But I suppose by the same token the lack of change can be a measure of comfort and stability, especially how things can often change for the worse. While the pandemic and our response to it has certainly changed a lot of things for a lot of people, for me the only real difference is that I can’t travel when/where I want to and I WFH full-time (at least until next week). I try to be grateful that I haven’t lost my job or taken a huge pay cut as many have – or even worse, lost health or even life. If people care to probe for more details then I can explain as such. If people don’t, then the answer stands.

            Liked by 1 person

            • That is always something to keep in in mind, that language is constantly evolving just as cultural capital is constantly evolving too. There have been times where I was speaking with someone and they didn’t wait for me to respond to ‘How are you?’. After they were done with their spiel, I answered the question with a ‘Good, and how are you?’ They always seemed so surprised but quite happy to engage.

              I had to think of your question there – ‘but how do those in Asian cultures greet each other? ‘. It is very good question and thank you for asking that. When I lived in Malaysia and Singapore (and did some travels around the region), I remember these short greetings with each other: ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Excuse me’. These are usually what is said when you’re wanting to talk to a stranger or the person behind the question, and without a beat you launch into what you want to say. This kind of greeting is also common among my friend groups in Asia.

              That is interesting to read about interactions with some Indigenous Australians, and it does sound quite different from other groups. Similarly in Asian cultures, not saying anything to a stranger is not considered rude or impolite but rather, it is seen as minding your own business and you’re not putting yourself in danger. As you mentioned, trust and familiarity is built up over time and the amount of time you spend with someone.

              Yeah, I am working on a non-fiction book. It has been challenging and writing a book is different from writing a blog post. Lots to learn along the way.

              Lack of change can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Sounds like you understand that. Things can always be worse as you mentioned. Or you can always move on and experience something else. It does seem like Australia is opening up again, and it seems like another round of change for many. Things can change overnight as what last year taught us. Hopefully you stay well through this phase, Simon.


              • ‘Hello’, ‘Excuse me’, I suppose these also work in the Anglosphere too. Maybe the ‘how are you?’ rhetorical question really is something that only happens in Western culture.

                I think the difference is actually making the effort to approach someone – yet not say anything at least in the first instance. I think in the Western cultural context that might be quite off-putting.

                Certainly you’re writing to a different audience in a book – or at least an audience in a different context/situation/expectation. Sounds like you’re making good progress, which is great.

                I’m encouraged to hear that state governments have ‘agreed’ to a national approach to managing further outbreaks however big or small and that there will be fewer cases of summary border closures that have plagued the country. I assume that’s to restore confidence in the local economy for industries like tourism and such. A pity I won’t be able to help with economic recovery since even if I was to believe that borders will remain open (within reason) and trust that my plans won’t be scuppered at the last moment, I don’t have leave left to use this year. Thank you, forced leave requirements. Ah well, things change overnight, as you say.

                Liked by 1 person

  7. Mabel, an interesting post about a question uttered by so many without a thought and often not really expecting an honest answer! As words matter to so much to me I find this question a bit lazy. As you eloquently point out, is it about your health, state of mind, actual existence on this planet?! At the same time, I appreciate that people are trying to make a connection, be friendly and with so many barely having time for one another it is heartening that there is care and concern. I like your suggestion of a fun silly answer as per #9! That would have both parties smiling away.

    Depending on who is asking the question I will answer with a ‘fine, thanks’ if at eg, a bank and asked by a bank teller. A family member will get a longer response.

    Your post brings to mind a conversation with a guy at the garage who was fixing my car. As I asked him how he was he started off on a rant that I couldn’t care less about him, why ask if I didn’t want a response etc. At first I was thrown but this but took his point that many ask without even listening to his response but that I really wanted to know. An in-depth twenty minute conversation ensued where he explained his family woes … and then he asked me and I answered truthfully too. A day of revelation!

    It’s great to see your post and always a delight to read your thoughts… finally, how are you, my friend?! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for sharing your reflections, Annika. I really enjoyed reading it. Really like how you describe ‘How are you?’ – that it is a lazy question and many of us don’t expect an honest answer. While some people genuinely ask it, many others don’t expect much of an answer. I’ve had so many people in Australia ask me the question and before I can answer, they are on to talking about something else – and these are usually strangers or some random people on the street wanting to sign me up to a mailing list.

      I also like the #9 Chewbacca response suggestion a lot too. It is very upbeat and probably not what anyone is expecting.

      That sounds like an interesting conversation you had with the guy at the garage. It sounded like the guy was really up front about how he felt about the question at first, and probably opened up to others previously who showed they didn’t care less. It was very nice of you to listen and it sounded liket the both of you had a really good conversation.

      As for how am I…I am writing my book. As a writer you know that is progress 😀 How are you, Annika? Hope to catch up on your blog soon 😛❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks, Mabel. I normally say I’m well. I was taught never to say I’m good.
    Regardless of how I feel, I usually respond that I’m well.
    When someone I care about who I know is genuinely asking after me, I answer honestly with the details.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Since I saw the wonderful Monty Python musical, “I’m not yet dead!” has been my usual response,
    (especially since much of my past year has been hospitals, surgery, therapy & meds, in addition to Covid19.) But my favorite response, if I think of it, is to throw the question back, as, “The question is -How are YOU?!” I feel there’s justice in making the person who put me on the spot feel what it’s like to be put on the spot. Bouncy questions don’t need to be answered, (if bouncy enough).

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is amazing you got to see the Monty Python musical. It must have been such a treat. It sounds like you have been through a challenging time lately. Throwing the question back is a response if you want to put the other person on the spot if that is what you want to do. Hopefully they don’t go ‘No, how are YOU?’ right back.


  10. Interesting post, Mabel. You’ve certainly provided some creative ways of answering the question. I don’t often ask people how they are, unless they are a relative or friend and I am genuinely asking the question about their health – physical or mental. At the supermarket checkout, I’m more likely to ask, ‘How is your day going?’ or comment that it looks either busy or quiet. Most respond to my question and seem to enjoy the brief chat that ensues while dealing with my purchases.
    By the way, Mabel, how are you? I’m doing fine, thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lovely to see you, Norah. I like your approach when asking others how they are by asking about how their day is. It’s definitely a more definitive question, and the person responding can talk about about something that happened that day. For instance, the cashier at the supermarket can respond with, ‘It’s been really busy today’ without getting too personal.

      Also lovely of you to ask, Norah. I have been writing, and that has been making me happy. It is lovely to hear you are doing fine. I hope you are really doing well over there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m pleased that you are writing and that it’s making you happy, Mabel. I love it when I am writing and creating something new too. It’s starting to cool down now. I think winter’s poking its nose in. Stay warm. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s funny how that throughout the different seasons in life, I always come back to writing. That is great you also find much enjoyment and creating something. I hope you find time for that. Seems like winter made a grand entrance here over the weekend. Looks like its much warmer where you are, Norah. Enjoy the warmth for me 😊


  11. It is a very Aussie thing to say, isn’t it? I noticed we all preface our conversation with How Are You? It is a form of greeting, and not usually a serious question but opens up the conversation and shows you care about the other person’s wellbeing. It can be intrusive and culturally insensitive in some countries, can’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mabel, these made me laugh and smile. Love the responses. I have had people ask me this inane question at inopportune moments. Also while I’ve been grieving a loss, but I fake smile and say I’m okay, how are you…blah, blah, blah. It’s the niceties that are habitual I guess. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lisa. Glad you enjoyed this. It is brave of you to put on a facade when you are not doing too well. Sometimes this is probably the best response – chat with the other person as soon and as briefly as you can, and then move on with your day. Hope you are doing well and take care ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Mabel. Good to “see” you. This simple question used to annoy me, because whenever I’d answer the question honestly, it was like people didn’t really want to know the answer. I didn’t understand why they’d ask. Eventually I learned that people, at least here in the states, tend to use the question as a passing greeting, like “hello.” They aren’t really looking for an answer. They just want to say ‘hi.’ So now, when people ask me how I’m doing, I just say “hi” or “hello” in return. If they actually stop and start talking to me for a period of time, then I’ll listen and respond.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. Good topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Likewise, it is good to ‘see’ you too, Lori. It definitely must be frustrating when people don’t want to hear how are you doing – sort of makes the question pointless and they might as well say ‘Hello’ instead. It’s great you say ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ these days and you’re comfortable with that. Hopefully you come across more people who want to engage with you and say the question genuinely. Take care and look after yourself, Lori.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Mabel as is often the case when I visit your blog, I leave with reflecting on my extroverted manner and increased sensitivity to those who are not. Even I have found that ‘How are you’ can cause discomfort for others. I have moved to “How is today going?’. It seems less intrusive, at least I hope so. I’d certainly welcome your thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is so kind of you to say, Sue. Thank you for your nice and encouraging words. I like to think of you as someone extroverted who asks ‘How are you?’ which much sincerity. It is very thoughtful of you to prefer to ask ‘How is today going?’ – it’s a bit more specific and the person answering can pick one part of their day to talk about. Hope you are staying safe over there. Hugs across the miles to you.


  15. Haha, there are some great ones on this list that are sure to start conversations and get attention, Mabel! I like the shining star one the best. I would also answer, “Better than ever” to see what someone replies 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your answer ‘Better than ever’. It is so positive and fitting if you really are doing well. Sometimes it’s always nice to start off a conversation who is positive and upbeat 🙂


  16. Hi Mabel :). Nice to hear from you. I’m a ‘Fine thanks’ kind of person, although if I know the person well my response is usually ‘Awesome’ :). When I ask the question i usually hear – ‘Yeah. Good mate; yourself?’
    Stay safe warm and happy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is nice to hear from you too, Andy. Sounds like you like to keep your responses short and sweet, and polite too. You stay warm too but I don’t think you will have any trouble with that ☀😄


  17. I generally lie and say I’m okay. I rarely say how I really am. I find it so awkward to give or even hint at the truth because I don’t think the other person really wants to hear it and it’s difficult for me to say what I want to. So stick with the pleasantry of “I’m okay thanks.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is great you know how to approach the question, even if it means not telling the straight truth. It can definitely be awkward to tell the truth about how you are doing especially if it’s something personal – so avoiding saying that out is the best.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, as well as can be. Can’t complain really, we have a large house for the 2 of us (plus the maid!). Plenty of sun and light. Our daughters and grandkids are nearby. Since most have been vaccinated or caught the bug, we can see each other frequently. Haven’t seen our friends in a year, but we’ll catch up one day.


        • That is lovely you got a large house and a maid. The house help must come in handy – it’s not something people have here in Australia but in Asia, maids are so common as you might know.

          That is good to hear you are well and can see each other. Here in Australia we’re opening up…I will miss work from home a lot lol 😂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well, large is relative. a 4 bedroom flat. And the maid is very common in Latin America. This lady has been with us for 25 years now. Part of the family practically. (As happens in Asia)
            I’m sure you’ll miss home office. Maybe companies will realize it is a good way to work. Saves on office space and rent. Best of luck.


  18. Hi Mabel!!!:) Nice to see and read your blog post. My response to, ” how are You?” is “Am doing good”. Am all for expanding on that if the person asking is interested in have such as conversation or if maybe they them self want to get something off their chest. How about you? How are you doing? You and your family doing okay health wise?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michael 🙂 It is nice to see you too. It sounds like you have thought out how to answer the question and prefer to keep it simple. I’m doing alright over here, we are all well. Very thoughtful of you to ask. Hope to catch up with your blog soon.


  19. I love these dialogue suggestions! What a useful social tool. My fave is ‘Who do you think you are, stranger?!’ That could be in a movie scene Mabel! It is such a huge question these days – how are you – and a recent guide to walking in open parks suggest you say hello to strangers along the way! So this is definitely a marmite issue and ripe for discussion. Some welcome this contact, others do not!

    Thank you for a great post Mabel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words, Lita. That is so true, given recent times people seem to want to be more friendly to others. But then again, as you also mentioned, it’s not always welcomed. There really are so many ways to answer ‘How are you?’. Staying silent and walking away is also one of them 😄 Hope you are doing well, Lita.


  20. It depends “How are you” is coming from. If it’s from clients / bosses, it probably just a polite way to open up a conversation. I’ll just reply with a curt “Good. And you?”

    But if it’s from my family, I’ll panicked and replied “What’s wrong? What’s happened?” Because my family will never ask how I am doing since we always update each other.

    And if it’s my friends, I’ll replied with just a smiley emoji. Because my closest buddies will know how I’m doing with my constant bitching over text with them. But those that need to ask me that question, probably isn’t in my inner circle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is such a good observation. Family can easily assume something is wrong when you ask them how they are. Agree with close friends they can probably easily tell what mood you are in regardless of how you answer them. Hope you are doing well, Kally.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As well as I can be. Heard a rumor that Malaysia is heading towards the 3rd wave. Not surprise given that our lockdown is on/off again and again. How’s the vaccination situation over your end? I probably will only be vaccinated by Feb 2022 if I’m lucky.


        • Hopefully things improve in Malaysia. Here in Australia we are pretty much back to normal but not sure when the majority of the population will be vaccinated. Still best to practice social distancing and be careful around others especially in crowded places.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Hope things do get better as it has been hard on so many people and areas in the world. Personally I don’t want to go back entirely to pre-Covid normal as I found much more purpose over the last year. But more certainty and less sickness all round the world would be great.

              Liked by 1 person

              • The ability to travel easily will be great too. I know it’s not exactly good for the environment but for families like ours, it means able to go home and be with our parents and siblings.


                • So agree. That’s one thing I miss, travel. It is especially very hard for people with family in different places and can’t travel to see each other. When things get better and travel is safe again, I am looking forward to coming back to Asia. Take care of yourself and family, Kally 💕


  21. Omg Mabel, this is great! ‘How are you’ is said so flippantly in the US, you wouldn’t believe it. Sometimes it’s said with care and consideration, but especially in cities, it is said with eyes barely lifted from their downcast position. Sometimes I want to scream, “Do you really want to know? Can you handle the truth?” ! Aaarggghhh …

    I do wish people were more authentic. But the world does not bend to my desires, I have found. 😂

    I love that you chose this subject, one of my pet peeves. You you have come up with some excellent replies!


    Liked by 1 person

  22. This is such a relatable post, Mabel. When I visited US for work in 2017, I came back confused about this question. Every other person would ask I would not know how much to share and even should I? I loved your creative ways.
    I think it boils down to who we are as individuals and what have we learnt or seen going up. Leaving the link of the post I wrote on this topic for you!

    Take care, Mabel. Always good to be here!


    • I read your post about the topic, Parul. You experience with the question is so insightful, especially your reflections on being asked the question while you were traveling in the US. You had every right to be hesitant to answer the cabby. When in doubt, I think it’s always safe to keep your response as generic as possible. Lovely to see you, Parul. Hope you are doing well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Great post, Mabel. I think the usual “How are you?” and response “Fine, thanks.” are both just another way to say hello. Some days at work, I simply said “Top of the morning,” I loved to shake it up so to speak. My students in German learned many answers using words to express emotions to the usual “Guten Tag. Wie geht’s?” “Danke, gut.” Americans in general don’t want details about your health though. So even if you were unwell, you still simply said “Fine, thank you.” Sometimes I simply answered in German when people asked. Or said “Greetings” when I entered the room. Have a good week. ^__^


  24. I almost always say, “I am good, how are you?” In Texas it is an almost meaningless but polite daily greeting much like saying hello. It isn’t superficial but just a cultural difference much like the long flowery greetings we used in Arabic. Irony doesn’t work that well here…😃


  25. Interesting post as always, Mabel. I think most people expect the answer, “I’m fine, thank you” and would be a little put out if I gave a negative answer. I believe “How are you?” is really just a standard greeting, unless it’s from a close friend who would be more interested in an honest answer. In South Africa the greeting is, “Howzit?” and the standard answer is “Fine, yourself?” 😅


    • Thanks, Sylvia. Negativity can be hard on people, so naturally people don’t expect a negative response to ‘How are you?’. I haven’t heard that greeting in a long while, ‘Howzit’. It sounds short, sharp and to the point. And catchy too 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Hi Mabel, fun and thoughtful post. I’ve often thought this was a loaded question, both for the person asking it and receiving it. For me it depends on how I’m feeling at that point in time, the relationship with the person asking, their tone, are they genuine etc … so many scenarios. My father in law lately (he has dementia) has taken to saying “I’m not feeling good today, I’m feeling bloody fantastic!”


    • Thanks, Miriam. I like your father-in-law’s enthusiasm despite dementia. He seems like a positive person. I am with you. The question is a loaded question and how I’m feeling reflects my response. Hope you are doing well and take care out there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • He’s a wonderful man Mabel and, for as long as I’ve known him, has always been positive and kind. Sad to see his mind decline but that’s how it is unfortunately. He’s still smiling! Hope you have a great week. 😊


  27. Hi Mabel – as always a thoughtful post that invites a thoughtful response! Personally I interpret “how are you” as innocuous as a simple “hello”. Very rarely do I ever respond with anything other than, “Great, how are you?” whether it’s the truth or not. Sometimes just saying it if you’re having a bad day makes you feel a bit better. Other times if I’m NOT feeling great I feel a bit resentful of the question which is very rarely a sincere invitation to talk about problems – most people are just using it in greeting. I’m not much of a fan of a snappy comeback and would be stunned if someone answered with any of your suggestions LOL!!


    • Thanks, Tina. This is such an interesting topic with different perspectives. You are very polite in your response to ‘How are you?’ and I am sure you get similar or neutral responses in return. Indeed, the question is a way to say hello or acknowledge the person beside you – and most of the time it is just that. Hope you are having a good week, Tina 😊


  28. Thanks so much for this post Mabel! Yes, how are you is such a common inquiry. I feel like if I’m doing well I’ll say I’m doing well but if I’m doing something other than that I will stick with saying that I feel okay, as usually I’m not down in the dumps enough these days that being okay would be a complete lie. This post does make me wonder about the psychological effects of people saying that they are doing okay just as a compulsory response to the how are you question if they actually aren’t doing well though. From the other comments on this post I’m glad to hear that it sounds like you had fun writing this one. (:


    • I like your response, saying you feel okay. That sounds like a very neutral response, even more so than ‘I’m good’ and ‘I’m alright’. It is certainly interesting to bring psychology into the picture. I feel some of us are conditioned to give a neutral ‘okay’ response even if we aren’t doing good, acting as a mechanism to isolate ourselves. This post was different to write – more light-hearted than the others. Thanks for reading and reflecting, Thomas 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  29. I get asked that a lot, especially since you-know-what so many of us has been working from home or have staggered working hours so it has been harder to meet colleagues that we personally know.
    I don’t answer with words. I answer with the wavy hand gesture. You know, the one that implies “so so”, but could actually also mean “exciting, full of ups and downs”, so it is up to their interpretations LOL.


    • That is a new one, responding with wavy hand gesture, like saying ‘meh’. Yeah, that could mean anything and up to their interpretation. Like, good, bad, actually both and everything in between 😊


  30. Hi Mabel, How are you? (Kidding) I loved your list of responses – they made me smile. I remember when we lived in Sydney, people would ask, “How are you going?”. Most of the time here, I feel like it’s rhetorical- a way to greet and move on without the inquirer really wanting to know. Interesting post and well written, as always. 🙂


    • I like your sense of humour, Jane 😄 It sounds like the people in Sydney were very friendly to you even though their ‘How are yous’ were probably rhetorical. Thanks for reading and enjoying these responses. There are so many ways to answer the question.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Hi, Mabel. Thank you for your patience. I wanted to have enough time in order to read your well written post. So today is that day. Again, you have written another thought provoking post on a subject that not too many of us even think about. Well done!! How I answer that question depends upon who is asking and what I am picking up about that person. I usually am very chipper and very upbeat and in return I usually get smiles and great attitude in return. Spread happiness where I can …. that’s my motto. Hope you are having a really great day today!!


    • It is lovely to see you and thank you so much for stopping by, Amy. Very kind of you. It is also so lovely of you to be chipper and attentive when you are interacting with others. You are Light and spread that Light around, and in return there is so much more happiness and kindness in this world. Such an admirable attitude. Things are alright over here. Hope you are having a really great day enjoying what you do. Much love to you 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  32. I love number 10 Mabel… and would love to have had that thought recently when several people I know asked me a the same personal question regarding my medical history… The truth!!…. Now they wouldn’t know it if it came up and bit them.. But I know they most certainly wouldn’t have handled it, no matter how I tried to butter it up.. lol.

    So HOW are YOU? lol…… chuckling here…. I am well, thank you Mabel.. as for those others???????? lol… Well Number 11 takes care of them.. giggle…

    Loved this Mabel…. Sending you Mega Hugs my friend…. lots of love your way ❤ ❤ ❤


    • Glad you liked number 10, truth. Sometimes others won’t readily accept the truth about you. Medical history is an incredibly personal subject, a subject you are always entitled to keep to yourself. And we always have the option of walking away and telling others you need your space if you feel that way.

      How am I, Sue…Things are alright over here. Thankful to be where I am at as you know, others would probably want to be where you and I are in these times.

      You are so generous with your Mega Hugs, Sue. Lots of Mega Hugs right back at you 💕💕💕

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Here in Korea, almost everyone will answer that question by saying “so so.” I have asked why and it’s because saying “good, I’m doing great because of XYZ” is considered boasting and “I’m not doing well” is considered a selfish consumption of someone else’s time.

    The joys of high context culture!


    • I have also heard people in Singapore and Malaysia say ‘so so’ as a response to ‘How are you?’. It seems like a neutral response, alluding to that you are alright,like you are having just another day where you know things can be better or much worse. Lovely to see you again, Ben. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Reading through this post, and subsequently the comments, I found myself nodding along to a lot of points. It is indeed a loaded question and sometimes feels rather trivial, especially in more formal settings. These days, when I get asked “how are you?” by my work supervisor, my response is a simple I’m alright” as I don’t really want to burden him with any personal issues I’m dealing with.

    And cultural differences can certainly lead to some confusion or awkward moments. When I moved to the UK for uni, I soon realized the expected (and most appropriate) answer to “how are you” was “not too bad”, which struck me as kind of depressing compared to the enthusiastic “I’m doing great!” or “I’m good!” uttered by my North American relatives and friends.


    • It is so kind of you to stop by to read and reflect, and also reading the comments. I am sure the commenters would be delighted to know that you spent some time reading what they wrote.

      That is a very thoughtful way of responding to your supervisor at work. I also like to answer that I’m alright to my managers and colleagues at work. Like you, I don’t want to be a burden to them or be emotional baggage.

      I agree cultural differences is a factor on how we respond. ‘Not too bad’ does have a bit more of a negative undertone compared to ‘I’m good’ – and it’s probably due to the choice of words, ‘bad’ vs ‘good’. Hope you are doing well over there, James. Take care 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Pingback: Resources Roundup – May’21 – Gargi's World

  36. Mabel – the humor and social psychology once again comes together in a Kwong post to give us lots to think about.
    I am still smiling at “can you handle to truth”
    hahahah a


  37. Great post and I like the different answers – need to try out “I’m Chewbacca!” 😀
    It really depends who’s asking, doesn’t it? If it’s someone I know well, I might go into more detail, but only if there’s time for it. Then there are some people who are so self-centered, they never even have the idea to ask how you are – I know some of them.
    I remember learning English at school and finding it extremely difficult to reply with a “How do you do?” when asked “How do you do?” – it drove me crazy! 😀
    And from a Chinese friend of mine I learned that it’s more customary in China to ask if they have eaten already than to ask how they are. I find that incredibly awesome! First, because it prooves how important it is to our well-being to have ingested food at one point during the day, second, because it kind of avoids having to analyze every mood and whatnot, and third, it’s something much more easy to reply.
    So, have you eaten yet, Mabel? 😉


    • Hehe, Chewbacca is always cool. Everyone might love you if you say you are Chewbacca 😀

      Yes! It really depends on who is asking ‘How are you?’ It is so much easier to give a more detailed answer if the question is coming from a good friend or someone whom you trust. LOL that is to true, there are some people who don’t even ask how you are! They just launch straight into talking about themselves or something related to them and you find it hard to get a word in. I am sure they mean well, but it would be nice to have some attention to 😄

      That is so true! Chinese people love asking if you have eaten as a way of greeting. Honestly I do that quite a bit too and people around me (Asian and non-Asian) have grown used to this. You are so right, eating is essential to our well-being and you haven’t eaten, you can be, well, hangry and maybe annoying.

      I ate very well today, Sarah. I hope you ate and are feeling good 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  38. Interesting topic, certainly one that I don’t tend to put thought into regularly enough. I find the meaning of ‘how are you?’ and it’s variations to be varied based on circumstance. As I am sure others would have already commented this – I’m a bit late to the party.

    I often find myself using it more as a greeting than a sincere question, saying “how’re you going?” briskly when passing someone as a way of acknowledging them with no intention of stopping for a chat. But also saying it in place of “hello” when engaging in friendly conversation in informal settings.
    The responses I get from people are usually their ‘preprogrammed’ responses such as ‘good, and you?’ or ‘not bad’, sometimes more colourful phrases such as ‘living the dream!’ but always feeling as insincere as the question.

    Automatic questions get automatic responses.

    Looking back on past conversations, when I ask ‘How are you going?’ and am sincerely asking, I put vocal emphasis on ‘you’ rather than ‘going’ as I would in general conversation. “How are *you* going?”
    The cadence and pitch I use depends on the tone of the conversation, but asking in this way seems to get me more sincere and in-depth responses, which leads to a richer and more honest conversation.

    While I don’t think I can pull off the “Fantistic! Like a shining star” response without sounding incredibly sarcastic, I definitely think I should put “Hakuna Matata” into regular rotation with my other canned responses. Maybe the occasional Chewbacca for good measure.

    Hope you’re well, Mabes (Sincerely). Would be good to reconnect sometime, been too long.


    • It is an interesting topic. There are indeed different ways to interpret ‘How are you?’ As you mentioned, it is often a preprogrammed greeting and something polite to say to someone that doesn’t exactly warrant a thought-out response, let alone a response at all. That said, it’s also a generic greeting to start a conversation with someone and see where it takes you – especially if you feel like the two of you have something in common.

      Agreed, if you genuinely sound interested when saying ‘How are you?’, and also don’t say it in a hurry and jump to another topic right away, chances are others will take notice. Tone, pitch and body language is usually open to interpretation but I guess many of us are aware of what’s friendly and non-friendly demeanour. In general, people appreciate your time or the time you give them, especially if you don’t appear to be in a hurry and engage with what they are saying.

      Hope you are doing good, Jeff.

      Liked by 1 person

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