You get in the office and run into your colleague who asks you: “How are you?”
Is it OK to respond with a simple “Good, and you?”
The answer varies depending on the context and who is asking the question.
So, how should we respond to “How are you”?
There are various options.
If you want to find the right one to use to respond to this question in different situations, read ahead!
Table of Contents
When someone asks “How are you?”, there are a lot of answers to choose from.
Here is the list of some responses you can use any time regardless of the context.
“I’m doing well, thanks for asking. And yourself?”
“I’m doing great, thank you. How have you been?”
“Very well, thank you! How are you?”
“I’m doing alright. What about you?”
“Thanks for asking, can’t complain. And you?”
“I’m fine, how about you?”
“Good, and you?”
“Not bad, how about you?”
“I’m pretty well. How are you?”
“So far, so good! What about you?”
The question “How are you?” is a common question at work.
When someone asks you “How are you?” in a professional environment, it’s important to tailor your response to the situation and relationship with the person.
Depending on the context and whether your boss or colleague asks how you’re doing, you can give a concise answer or start a conversation.
So, let’s take a look at some of the best responses to a “How are you?” from your:
- Colleague, and
- Business partner or client.
If your boss asks “How are you?”, you might wonder whether you should reply with something simple like: “Very well, and you?” or you should tell more about what you’re currently working on.
As we said, taking into account the context is critical to give an appropriate answer to this question.
For instance, if you just run into your boss who says “How are you doing?”, it’s most likely an alternative way to say “Hi”. Thus, in this case, you can reply with a short answer such as: “Very well, how are you?”
On the other hand, if you have a one-on-one meeting, a “How are you?” from your boss is probably a conversation starter.
In this situation, your boss is checking in professionally, so you should answer in a more detailed way. You can update your boss on your current project progress, or let them know if you’re encountering any difficulties.
However, even if you’re facing some challenges that you want to share with your boss, make sure to keep the tone positive and show your enthusiasm.
For example, you can say something like this:
“I’ve been facing some challenges with our clients this week, but I’m working hard to fix it.”
“This week has been tougher than usual, but I’m managing to handle it.”
Most importantly, give honest and authentic answers, so you can keep the conversation moving forward in the right direction.
When your colleague asks “How are you doing?”, you probably don’t need to be as specific as with your boss.
Coworkers typically ask this and similar questions to maintain positive professional relationships with each other and provide support.
So, here are some of the responses to a “How are you?” from your colleague:
“Everything is great like it should be. How are you?”
“I’m very well, but can’t wait for the weekend. What about you?”
“I’m pretty tired, but work is going well. How have you been?”
💡 PUMBLE PRO TIP
If you want to ask your colleague for an update, make sure to craft a professional and polite update request. If you’re not sure how to do that, read our blog post:
When a business partner or client whom you don’t know very well asks you “How are you?”, make sure to:
- Have a positive tone,
- Keep it simple, and
- Respond in a formal way.
For example, you can say something like:
“I’m very well, thank you! How are you?”
“I’m doing well. And yourself?”
“I’m doing great, thank you for asking. How have you been?”
A job interview is typically a stressful experience for candidates, and professionals who conduct interviews are well aware of that.
Therefore, hiring managers use ice breaker questions such as “How are you?” to make candidates feel more comfortable.
Unlike other job interview questions, a “How are you?” doesn’t have the right and wrong answer, so make sure to respond honestly and politely.
You can simply reply with:
“I’m fantastic, how are you?”
“Very well, thank you for asking. How are you today?”
However, if you feel nervous, it’s absolutely fine to share that with the interviewer.
You can say something like this:
“I’m feeling a little nervous, but I’m happy to be a step closer to working in your company.”
Even though most people respond to “How are you?” generically, if you answer with a witty response, it’s a great approach to break awkward tension and start a lovely conversation.
If you’re not sure how to respond to “How are you?” in a funny and creative way, take a look at our examples for inspiration.
“Better than I deserve.”
“Pretty crappy, but what can you do?”
“Not bad for a human.”
“Living the sweet life.”
“I’m surviving on coffee and sarcasm.”
“If I had a tail, I would wag it!”
“Happy as a lost kid in a candy store.”
“I am planning on taking over the world.”
“I am better on the inside than I look on the outside.”
“Can’t complain. I have tried, but no one listens.”
“Looking for a fridge to freeze my brain.”
“Just looking for my lost unicorn!”
“Existing, thank you. And you?”
“Just like I won the lottery!”
“Next question, please.”
“Looking for a miracle.”
“God only knows!”
“Somewhere between better and best, thanks!”
“Mentally at the beach.”
“Compared to who?”
“Living the dream. Please don’t wake me up.”
“How much will you pay me if I tell you?”
“I need more direction. Physically, mentally, spiritually?”
We all have bad days, and it’s completely normal that we can’t feel good all the time.
So, if someone asks “How are you?” and you’re not feeling OK, you can say something like this:
“I’m not going to lie, I don’t feel very good.”
“I’m struggling a bit.”
“I’m not doing very well.”
“It’s been a tough week.”
“I’m not having an easy time at this moment”
If you’re feeling ill, you can simply say:
“I’m feeling a bit under the weather.”
And, if you’re under the pressure because you have too much work, you can say:
“I’m snowed under.”
Next time someone asks you “How are you?”, keep in mind the following tips.
Nonverbal communication is a powerful tool that influences verbal communication and helps people maintain positive relationships.
Namely, depending on your tone of voice, people can interpret the same words differently. That’s why it’s important to try to maintain a cordial tone when you speak.
Once you’ve replied to the question, don’t forget to say “Thanks for asking”. Whether you choose to reply to the question in one word or several sentences, make sure to say “Thank you” professionally.
This way, you show that you appreciate them asking about you. After all, it’s a friendly and polite thing to say.
To make conversation going and show your politeness, ask the same question back.
You can simply say:
“What about you?”
Aside from asking “How are you?”, people use variations of this question such as “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?”.
If you’re not sure how to respond to these questions, take a look at the examples below.
This question is a good alternative for asking “How are you?” someone who you already know. For example, when you meet your friend whom you haven’t seen for a while, you can ask “How have you been?”
Here are some of the answers to this question:
“I’ve been pretty well!”
“I’ve been working a lot since we met last time. But, I can’t complain. What about you?”
“I’ve been super busy. Can’t wait for vacation”
Another alternative for a “How are you?” is “How’s it going?”. Both questions have the same meaning, so you can respond in the same way, or you can simply say:
“It’s going very well.”
When someone wants to know what’s happening in your life, they ask: “What’s up?”
You can simply reply:
“Just the usual.”
Or, if you want to answer in more detail, you can explain what is going on in your life.
All things considered, the question “How are you?” serves both as a greeting and conversation starter.
To respond to this question properly, you should consider the situation and relationship with the person asking the question.
Most importantly, make sure to respond honestly, and keep a positive tone of your voice.
✉️ What about you? How do you typically respond to “How are you”? Do you have any additional tips on how to answer this question professionally?
Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might include your input in this or future posts. If you found this article helpful, share it with someone who would also benefit from it.