How to Respond to "How Are You?"
How Are You?
If the above question made you cringe, congratulations. You have good taste. I find it incredibly annoying when people start conversations with this insipid question; I know it’s a nicety, but it is one of those polite lingual jigs that I just don’t want to dance anymore. I’m tired of giving the same response over and over. I’m tired of asking and getting boring responses in return.
I propose we stop this endless cycle of banality- both by spicing up our responses and by providing alternate conversation preambles. I’ll provide some starting points below.
Join me, comrades. Forget all your other causes- they’re pointless. This is a battle worth fighting- and winning.
How to Respond to “How Are You?”
Let’s start by the typical responses we give (and receive in response) to this question. They fall into two categories. Boring and professional.
- Very well, thank you. How are you?
- I’m well, thanks.
Still awake? Well, that makes one of us, at least.
What is your favorite approach?
Alternate Ways to Answer the “How Are You?” Query
To make people question their habit of asking tiresome introductory questions, we must stop providing tiresome answers. Consider providing something that is, instead...
- Not telling
- That’s classified
- No comment
- Information request: denied
- Oh, you know. Why don’t you tell me?
- (with an accent) The real question you should be asking, my friend, is who are you?
- Come a little closer and ask that again.
- Still breathing, apparently alive. Heart rate: slightly elevated...
- Well, since you asked, I have the WORST wedgie
- Tired of people asking that question
- Victorious, as always.
- Shirley Temple?
- Do you actually care?
- I’m very well. Now... how does that make you feel?
- Why do you ask?
- Good question. How am I? Who am I? Why are we here? How did we get here?
- That doesn’t matter, darling. How are YOU?
Alternate Introductions to “How Are You?”
In addition to providing more creative answers to a painfully unimaginative question, we might also consider providing people with some good ideas of other ways to start conversations. If we lead by example and spare others the pain of facing this question, we might eventually see less of this question ourselves.
Instead of running on autopilot and mindlessly asking people how they are (without actually caring about the answer), we might just...
What about you?
How do *you* start conversations?
- Hello. Would you like to get lunch?
- Hey! You look like you’re about to punch someone. Might I offer my face?
- Hello, I would like two scoops of chocolate ice cream.
- Howdy, amigo! How about we just skip dinner and build ourselves a blanket fort?
Ask a more interesting or specific question
- Any victories today?
- Those are fantastic shoes. Where did you find them?
- How do you know Mr. Snuffles?
- What are your thoughts on abortion?
Simply say something nice
- Good evening! You look fabulous.
- Hi there! it’s great to see you.
- Your arms are ripped! I bet you could tear the head RIGHT OFF a chicken!
Make the Shift Happen!
My proposed alternatives to “how are you?” responses and conversation launchers are mere starting points. I imagine that you already have quite a few ideas of your own. Whatever they are, I urge you to use them.
Together, my friends, we can make the world slightly less banal.