You may be asked this question several times in different situations, like when you bump into someone you barely know, a co-worker, or even when a close friend checks up on you.
Some of us are used to replying to it instinctively, while others tend to think first before answering. But is there any other way to respond to this question?
According to numerous experts, here are ways to answer, “How is it going?”
Howard Rankin, Ph.D.
Communication and Cognitive Neuroscience Expert | Host, How Not to Think Podcast | Author, ”I Think Therefore I Am Wrong”
Use reflexive language when in minimal interaction with someone
A lot of what we do is reflexive and habitual. We don’t really think about it, although we’re obviously aware of it. However, there’s a difference between awareness and agency, planning out an action or what we’re going to say.
Reflexive language is a great example of that. When in minimal interaction with someone, be they a stranger or only vaguely known, we feel we have to say something, especially when making eye contact.
Saying nothing seems a bit like ignoring the other person, so often, we just say something to recognize the minimal “connection.”
“How’s it going?” is one of those classic, reflexive phrases.
- We respond with something equally reflexive like “Fine” or,
- If you’re not feeling so great, “Meh.”
Of course, you could respond with something that elevates the conversation beyond the reflexive, typically with a question, which changes the interaction.
- “Oh, why do you want to know?”
- “How’s what going?”
You could invite the questioner into a longer conversation:
- “Oh, let me tell you, it has been a heck of a few days. Have you got a few minutes?”
- “Thank you so much for asking! I didn’t know you cared!”
- “Thanks so much for asking. I really need someone to talk to. You don’t happen to have a professional license, do you?”
Of course, the way that is delivered might make you seem like a funny dude or a person in need. So, the response is likely to be a smile or that the questioner simply walks off. There’s also the possibility—albeit a slim one—that this could be the beginnings of a lifelong relationship.
You can make a reference to a commonly known event
Another more personal way of communicating would be to make reference to a commonly known event.
- Person: “How’s it going?”
- Me: “At least I’m not in Ukraine.”
This provides a bit more of a connection without requiring any response.
Body Language and Confidence Coach, Executive Public Speaking Coach | International speaker
You can talk about the highlights of your day
For example, “My day has been great so far.” Share a highlight or two after. Be authentic when answering, and truly share a couple of things that made your heart sing that day.
Answering this way keeps you in a positive frame of mind and is also reserved for someone you’re close with, who isn’t just asking “How’s it going” as a formality. This answer is often reserved for partners, good friends, close colleagues, and family.
Answer this way if you’re having a really great day and want to keep your mood up.
If you’re that person who chooses to stay in a positive mood and state of mind, you’ll often be able to find a bit of sunshine on a rainy day. Saying, “I’m incredible” also offers an opening for the other person to ask you more questions about your day.
I’m incredible and can also be used as a conversation starter. Let’s be honest; if someone says that their day has been incredible, we can all agree that we would want to know more.
“I’m fine, thanks”
This type of response is often reserved for casual encounters and conversations where you don’t know the person asking that well or don’t care to carry on a longer conversation. This type of response keeps things polite and to the point.
If you’re that person who likes to stay in the space of gratitude, saying, “I’m blessed,” will showcase your appreciative nature.
It also can imply that your circumstances happened to you on purpose, and you’re appreciative of them.
Whole Person Medicine and Reverse Psychology
It all depends on the sincerity of the question
If it’s a genuine question about the ups and downs of one’s life, it should be answered in that spirit and not with the awful “Not too badly” or other neutral and generally dishonest anodynes.
If it’s not a genuine question, but just an alternative to “Hi” or “How are you?” then, astoundingly, the most provocative answer is also honesty, but this time with a touch of irony.
- Phone marketer
Whenever a phone marketer asks me this question, I take the opportunity to tell them how tough the day has been and why. It always amuses me how they squirm because the next thing on their script doesn’t really work!
In face-to-face conversations, some people don’t like an honest answer to that question either, but I still find it liberating to be honest.
“Oh, thank you for asking! Actually, today has not been great…”
This has two possible results:
- You will not be asked that question again by that person.
- The questioner will engage in a genuine conversation.
Overall, this question can be used to distinguish people who really care about how you are doing and those who don’t but just use the question as a ‘hello’ and are not really interested.
It’s a way of being radically truthful about yourself and your interactions with others, and as such, I welcome this question.
Jessica Anvar, Esq.
Managing Partner, Lemon Law Experts
Thank them for asking and offer something in your answer that can add more to the conversation
“How’s it going?” is probably a question you receive daily.
“Good!” “Fine!” “Great!” are all appropriate answers, but sometimes those responses can cut the conversation quite short. This is probably the last thing you want to do during certain workplace settings, such as a job interview.
Adding a bit more to an answer such as “I’m fine!” can work wonders in connecting you with others in the office. You should ideally answer this question positively, honestly, and in a way that can extend the conversation within reason.
When someone asks you how everything’s going, you should answer them, thank them for asking, and then try asking your own questions or offer something in your answer that can add more to the conversation.
You don’t need to go in-depth with your response if the person is in a rush
If the person appears to be in a rush or if time is limited, such as in a job interview or meeting, then you obviously do not need to go as much in-depth with your response.
You can answer the question, thank them for asking, and perhaps give a hint at something fun and or positive that you did during the day, such as:
- “Hi! Thank you, I had a great morning and managed to go to the gym right before work! How are you?“ or
- “Doing well, thank you for asking. I had to search for my umbrella this morning. I had no idea it was going to rain! How are you today?“
In such a case, keeping your answer light but still friendly can help connect you with the person who asked the question without dragging them into a long conversation that they may not have time for.
Being personable is key to leaving a great impression and connecting with others in your workplace
If you are on break with coworkers or in another more relaxed setting at work and you get asked this question, you can try extending the conversation even further.
Perform the same steps as you would if there was limited time – thank them for asking, answer them, and ask them how they are doing.
In this type of workplace setting, you can offer even more detail about something happening in your own life in your answer, such as:
- “Hi, thank you so much for asking. Doing well, I went surfing over the weekend. I try to go every Saturday. How are you doing?” or
- “I’m doing great, thank you! I just started guitar lessons this week. It’s exciting. I’ve always wanted to learn. How are you?“
Answers like this can extend the conversation further, and you may even discover things you share in common with the person who originally asked.
Perhaps the coworker or manager who asked you the question has played guitar or surfed for over a decade. You would never learn this had you not built upon the conversation.
Ultimately, remember to be both personal and honest with your responses. Both in and out of the workplace, people are accustomed to giving the same answer whenever they are asked how things are going.
Sometimes you do want to go beyond “I’m fine!” or “Doing well!” It is refreshing to hear what else is going on in your life and exactly which specific things are going well.
If you remember that, you will likely receive a great response from the person who asked you.
Being personable in this way is key to leaving a great impression and connecting with others in your workplace, no matter if you are in an important meeting or on break.
Master Certified Life coach | Self-love Coach
It depends on who is asking the question
So many times, we are asked this question: “How is it going?” But have you ever wondered why we even ask each other this question? Let us take a look.
Sometimes people ask this question as a courtesy because they want to be nice, while other times, people are, in fact, interested in knowing how it is that you are doing.
The same set of people who were previously interested in knowing how you are doing use this question as a form of courtesy. And that tells us that the frame of mind of the person at the time of asking the question is also important.
Then comes the who part—who is asking you this question?
- Is it a stranger, or
- Is this a family member or friend?
There are multiple ways to answer this question based on whether you know this person or not and if the question being asked is a courtesy or if someone really wants to know how it is going for you.
But in both cases, how you respond to this question depends on you. Let us explore further.
If you are being asked this question by someone you already know, then your answer may include some details as opposed to being asked this question by someone you hardly know.
Having said that, how you respond also depends on your own state of mind. So, when asked how it is going, if there’s too much going on in your world and you are overwhelmed because of it, you may say more.
But again, it depends on who is asking the question.
Often, the person asking the question is asking as a courtesy and does not intend to hear a long response because they may not know what they are supposed to do with the answer you give them.
So, I believe the bottom line is that you, who’s being asked how it is going, are in control of how you choose to answer. It all depends on your mood at the time this question is asked, and whatever it is that is going on in your life or inside you.
There is no right or wrong way to answer this question because whatever feels right to you in the moments of getting asked this question is your perfect response!
Relationship Expert | Founder, Everlasting Occasion
You can give them a greater insight into who you are if you know the person well
Nothing is worse than asking somebody how they are doing and getting that typical and blanket response, “Good.”
Besides, this shuts the conversation off and prevents any meaningful conversation from occurring. In fact, it can even make the respondent appear rude and stand-offish, which, thankfully, can be avoided with a particular response.
I will now cover the different aspects of a suitable response that will result in much more effective communication and resulting conversations.
Give an open response
The best way to respond to somebody asking “How’s it going?” is to offer something that can be built off.
An open-ended reply like this is a great way to spark further conversation.
“I’d be better if…” or “Pleased that… is now…”
Better still, you can tailor these kinds of responses depending on the relationship you have with the person asking the question.
For instance, if you know the person well, you can give them a greater insight into who you are. If you don’t know the person particularly well, you can keep your response vaguer and omit sensitive information.
You can mention a shared experience
Another excellent means of answering the question is to say something that may relate to the person asking.
So, for instance:
“I’m okay, but the weather is making me a little down…”
In this instance, the person asking the question can relate to you through a shared or common experience, and rapport can be built.
You can use conversational topics like world events, news, sports team results, etc., depending on the person/location, but just be sure to be careful with the topic so as not to potentially cause offense.
Entrepreneur | CEO, Champion Leadership Group LLC
You’ve undoubtedly been asked, “How is it going?” quite a few times during your life. You may have been puzzled about how to respond to it several times.
Here are two interesting ways to answer this question:
“It’s lovely to be seeing you”
You may be looking forward to seeing the other individual, such as a close buddy. Instead of addressing the question, express your gratitude for being able to observe them.
Placing emphasis on others often results in them feeling appreciated, seen, and as if their lives have worthwhile they are doing so.
Remind the other person how much you value and appreciate their presence in your life. Make their day, and spend quality time with them.
“Waiting to be asked… So, how are you doing?”
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, this is a better choice. This may also be a good idea for those new to an area since it allows them to connect with others and feel like they are part of a group of people.
It’s a great way to start a long-term friendship when you’re on your own in a new place.
Dr. Tessa Spencer, PharmD, CNC, CPT
Nutrition Coach | Disease Management Pharmacist, The Superfood Pharmacist
Incorporate an uplifting memory from the past week and ask the other person to share theirs too
When someone asks you, “How’s it going,” it’s an opportunity to form a deeper relationship with that person. Instead of responding with a generic, “I’m fine, how are you?” take a moment to assess how you can connect with them.
How can you impact their day in a positive way? To do this, ask a positive open-ended question that can trigger an interesting story instead of a generic response.
I like to incorporate an uplifting memory from the past week into my response and ask the other person to share an uplifting memory of their own.
In addition, if I am walking past a person when they ask me, “How’s it going?” I stop walking, face the other person, and make eye contact with them to show I am genuinely thankful and interested in what they have to say.
One of my favorite responses might look something like this:
“Thank you for asking. I’ve been going through some highs and lows, but (insert uplifting memory) I got to spend all last weekend with my family, which was a beautiful thing! What’s something exciting that has happened to you in the last week?”
Certified Life Transformation Coach, OnlineDivorce
“It could be worse”
I don’t really have a fixed response to this question, but I definitely have a few favorites.
When I am asked how it is going amidst a difficult day, I answer with:
“It could be worse!” with a burst of casual laughter.
I think it sends off the message that things aren’t perfect for me. People are generally careful around me when that is my response. But while people are careful, they aren’t uncomfortable.
They know I am still approachable, I am still humorous, and we can still have normal conversations.
On my good days, I reply with:
I usually go further and ask them how they are doing and strike up valuable conversations.
Chief Content Strategist, Tech Guided
“It’s all good in the hood”
This reply is perfect when a casual friend, colleague, acquaintance, or neighbor asks the above-mentioned question.
Simply saying, this line “It’s all good in the hood” means “Everything is fine in the neighborhood.“
Here, hood is the short form of the neighborhood. This could be a well-seasoned version of “Everything’s fine.” Although you might be in an ordinary situation, living life and minding your own business, your answer shouldn’t have to be necessarily boring.
Give your boring reply an upgrade with this sentence to disclose your joyful state of mind.
“Somewhere between better and best”
Are you a thinker? Well, this reply will make you sound like one. One can never be in a fantastic setting as life is not always rainbows and unicorns.
Though you might be in a dilemma or standing at a crossroads in your personal life, this answer will help you express yourself without giving too much about what’s going on in your life.
You might be thinking about running to the hills, but why sound like one, right?
“Somewhere between better and best” could have multiple interpretations. It could be a unique way to say you are good or incite deep thinking in the person you are speaking to.
No matter what, this is indeed a great way to sound mystical and brainy.
CEO, Seabreeze Management
Turn the question around
The trick is to turn this often closed-ended question into an open-ended one. Instead of saying “Good” or “Okay,” and leaving it at that, follow up with why you are feeling the way you are.
If you’re good, tell the person why you’re good, like when they say or ask:
- “Did your baby sleep through the night?“
- “Did you go to an awesome party the night before?“
- “Maybe you finally received that raise you had been hoping for.“
Whatever the case may be, tell the person why you’re in a good mood. This will only deepen your relationship and encourage the other person to share with you as well.
Don’t be afraid to open up
Likewise, if you’re not doing well, be honest, like when you’re asked:
- “Did your pet just die?”
- “Are you not feeling well?”
- “Did you recently get outbid on a house?”
Don’t be afraid to open up. The response from the person you’re speaking with might surprise you.
Interior designer and Owner, Knobs
Asking someone how they’re doing can be an uncomfortable experience for both parties.
Here are some interesting ways to answer the question according to psychology and the explanation behind it:
Saying this phrase communicates that you are grateful for what you have, even if things aren’t going perfectly. It’s a way of looking on the bright side and focusing on the positive.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time”
This response shows that you are mindful of the present moment and aren’t getting ahead of yourself. It’s also a subtle way of saying that you don’t want to get too far into the future because who knows what could happen.
“I’m trying to stay present”
This phrase communicates that you are aware of the fact that it’s easy to get caught up in the past or the future. You are making a conscious effort to stay in the present moment.
“I’m doing OK”
This is a low-key way of saying that you are doing fine, but without sounding overconfident. It’s a response that is both humble and realistic.
“I’m doing better than I was”
This phrase shows that you are making progress, even if things aren’t perfect. It communicates that you are working hard and trying to improve.
Chief Operations Officer, Parachor Consulting
The answer to a regular question doesn’t always have to be regular. Break the monotonous chain and bring in some excitement to the conversation.
Here are some fun answers to “How is it going?”
“Ah! Can you handle the truth, my friend?”
Saying this in a mysterious tone paired with a mischievous grin will have the other person smiling as well. Instead of saying just ‘good’, this is more fun and cheerful way of answering. It will kickstart with a conversation on a positive note.
Borrowing from the Fault in Our Stars by John Green, I have always felt that this answer is a banger. It’s witty and elevated. Anyone who has read the book or watched the film will recognize it, and that would be instant bonding.
You don’t always have to be elaborate. Just be different and unique. It makes the other person interested and willing to talk to you.
Designer | Founder, Everwallpaper
You can ask the question back to know how interested they are in hearing what you have to say
If you are a human, chances are that you have answered this question, “How’s it going?” on a social networking site or at a party, or just casually at the grocery store.
If you are like most people, you probably said something like:
The phrase is typically used as a greeting, and the person who asks does not usually expect or want a detailed response. So literally, anything goes with regards to your answer.
You don’t have to be a conversational savant to have something interesting to say when someone asks, “How’s it going?”
You don’t need to be a comedian, motivational speaker, or psychic.
A good way to respond in order to gauge the depth of conversation the person you are talking to is to ask the question back.
For example, if your friend asked:
“How’s it going?”
You may ask back:
“How do you think it’s going?”
This will make them think about how you feel and get their attention.
Depending on how they respond will let you know exactly how interested they are in hearing what you have to say and where you stand on the extent of the conversation expected.
On the other hand, if the question is genuine, there are many different ways to answer, ranging from an update about your:
- social life,
- personal achievements,
- challenges, etc.
I have used most of these when asked this question.
But my favorite has been to ask the person how they are doing, as it then quickly becomes a two-way conversation and helps build a natural rapport while also giving me time to collect my thoughts as to how I wish to respond back to the initial question if asked again.
Co-Founder, Twiz LLC
This is the best answer I have heard so far when talking to a colleague. It is also very commonly used when talking to a friend.
It is witty, funny, and puts a smile on the other person’s face because they know exactly what you are referring to, whether it is a truckload of assignments or a boss piling work up on weekends.
“Waiting for Saturday”
Life is a constant cycle of waiting on weekends. Monday begins with dreams of Friday, and hence, this is one of the most truthful answers to this question.
“Better and bitter, I don’t know, really”
This is something we often only use with friends and close ones. But I feel this is something different than a simple ‘good’ or ‘nice.’
“Feeling great since you asked”
This suggests that you like having the person talk to you. It can be a pretty good start with an acquaintance or a formal colleague.
Do it with confidence and authenticity
There are many different ways to answer the question “How’s it going” depending on the situation and our current mood. Some simple but common responses might include “Good,” “Great,” or “Just okay.”
However, there are also more creative or evocative ways to express how we’re doing.
For example, you might say that:
- Things are going swimmingly or you’re on top of the world– if you’re in a particularly good mood
- Things are rough at the moment or you’ve had better days– if you’re feeling down
- Share some personal news or talk about something that’s currently on your mind– if you want to keep a conversation going
Of course, the context of the conversation matters as well. For example, a teacher might respond differently than a friend when asked how their day is going.
Ultimately, whatever our response may be, it’s always worth remembering that it’s not just about what we say but also how we say it. After all, our tone of voice and body language can go a long way in conveying our feelings and the meaning behind our words.
So no matter how you choose to answer the question “How’s it going,” make sure you do it with confidence and authenticity!
Network Security Engineer | Founder, Networks Hardware
Make things interesting; if there is a trendy topic going on, immediately jump into that
Ignore the grammatical rules when answering questions like these. The perfect answer to this question usually depends on who is asking.
To make things interesting, I had an uncle who used to answer this question by saying, “Compared to what?”
I personally stick to anything interesting that’s going on at that very moment. I would answer by saying, “At the Oscars or in general?”
If there is a trendy topic going on, I immediately jump into that without going for the usual, “Good, what about you?” This keeps the conversation going smoothly instead of forced polite conversation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use “How is it going?” as a conversation starter?
Yes! “How is it going?” is a friendly and casual conversation starter that can be used in many social situations. It’s a great way to break the ice and get to know someone better. When you ask this question, it shows that you are genuinely interested in the other person’s well-being and experiences.
Should I be honest when answering, “How is it going?”
Honesty is generally the best policy, but when answering “How is it going?” it’s important to gauge the situation and consider the level of depth you want to share. If you’re with close friends or family, sharing your true feelings is more appropriate.
However, in more formal settings or with acquaintances, it might be better to give a more neutral or positive response like “I’m doing well, thank you.”
How can I use humor to respond to “How is it going?”
Using humor to respond to “How is it going?” can create a lighthearted atmosphere and showcase your personality. To craft a witty response, consider the context and the people you’re interacting with to ensure your humor is appropriate. A few humorous responses could be:
• “Living the dream, one day at a time!”
• “I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend!”
• “Oh, you know, just navigating the chaos called life!”
• “I’d say I’m somewhere between ‘thriving’ and ‘just barely surviving’!”
• “I’m taking life one sip of coffee at a time.”
• “Better than a broken pencil—at least I have a point!”
Don’t forget to smile as you deliver your response with a playful tone to signal that you’re joking. Make sure to gauge the reaction of the person you’re talking to; if they laugh or smile, you’ve successfully added humor to the conversation.
How can I respond to “How is it going?” professionally?
When responding to “How is it going?” professionally, it’s important to be concise, polite, and positive. Since you’re in a professional setting, focus on sharing work-related updates or general sentiments about your day. Here are a few examples:
• “Things are going well, thank you. I’ve made great progress on my current project.”
• “I’m having a productive day, thanks for asking. How about you?”
• “Busy but good! I’m looking forward to the upcoming meeting.”
• “I’m doing well, thank you. I’m excited about the new project we’re working on.”
• “Things are moving forward smoothly. I appreciate the support from my team.”
• “So far, so good! I’ve been learning a lot from my new role.”
Maintain a friendly tone and make eye contact to show engagement. Depending on the situation, you may also want to ask how the other person is doing to show interest in their well-being.
Can I use body language to enhance my response to “How is it going?”
Absolutely! Body language plays a crucial role in communication, and using it effectively can enhance your response to “How is it going?” Here are some tips to incorporate positive body language:
• Maintain eye contact: Eye contact demonstrates confidence and attentiveness.
• Smile: A genuine smile can convey warmth, friendliness, and positivity.
• Posture: Stand or sit up straight, with your shoulders relaxed and your chest open. Good posture signals confidence and self-assuredness.
• Gestures: Use appropriate hand gestures to emphasize points or express enthusiasm. However, be mindful not to overdo it or appear too animated.
Is it necessary to ask the person how they are doing in return?
While it’s not necessary to ask someone how they are doing in return, it is generally considered polite and empathetic to do so. By reciprocating the question, you create a sense of connection and show that you care about the other person’s well-being. This helps to build rapport and fosters a positive environment for conversation.
However, it’s important to remember that each situation and individual is unique. If you sense that the person might not be interested in discussing their feelings, you can choose to skip the question or keep it open-ended, allowing them to decide how much information they wish to share.
What if I’m having a bad day and don’t want to share my feelings?
It’s completely normal to have days when you don’t feel like sharing your feelings, especially when you’re going through a tough time. If someone asks how you are doing and you don’t want to divulge details, you can provide a brief, neutral response such as “I’m okay, thank you for asking” or “I’ve had better days, but I appreciate your concern.”
You can also take this opportunity to steer the conversation towards a different topic or gently express that you’d prefer not to discuss your feelings at the moment. Remember, it’s okay to set boundaries and protect your mental health.
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