4 Better Ways to Answer “How Are You?” than “I’m Good”
How many times a day do people ask, “How are you?” Probably at least ten.
And how many times a day do you respond, “I’m good?” Probably at least ten.
There’s nothing wrong with replying this way. However, we use “I’m good” so frequently and so indiscriminately, that it’s become essentially meaningless. If you opt for a less generic, more descriptive answer, you’ll get the opportunity to actually connect with whoever asked. You may even jump-start a conversation.
Here are four alternatives to “I’m good.”
1. My day has been great so far. [Give a reason why]
When you’re genuinely enthusiastic, it’s truly difficult for others to resist your good mood. And note that your reason doesn’t have to be incredibly impressive. You might say, “Thanks for asking! I’m having a great day. I just looked at the weather forecast and saw it’s no longer going to rain tomorrow, which means I can go for a long hike.”
You can also create some goodwill by highlighting a team member’s accomplishment. For example, “My day has been awesome. Alexa figured out why we were having issues with one of the new features—really happy about that.”
2. I’ll be honest—I’ve had better days. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better!
Unless you’re speaking to a total stranger, don’t be afraid to be honest. Having a terrible day is hard enough—trying to cover it up can be even worse. Oftentimes, being a little vulnerable with people strengthens the relationship (and you never know when they’ll say, “Ugh, me too! What’s going on with the universe today?!?”) As long as you end on a slightly optimistic note—like, “tomorrow will be better”—sharing the less-good times is definitely kosher.
3. Good, thank you. I’m just [appreciating/looking forward to]…
This response lets you acknowledge something you’re happy about, like the warm weather, the latest episode of a fantastic TV show, the trip you’re taking over the weekend, and so forth.
The other person will appreciate your cheery response. Even better, it gives them something to ask you about. They might say, “Oh, you’re visiting Nashville? You must go to…”
4. Hmmm…productive. Thanks for asking! How are you?
Sometimes, you’re running around like crazy trying to get everything done. That probably means you’re stressed—so you might not feel like saying you feel great. You can put a positive spin on this situation by saying you’ve been productive, which is true!
This response also gives the other person a chance to ask, “What have you been doing?” Discussing your current projects with your coworkers or friends is a great way to learn more about each other’s work lives and even get suggestions or ideas.