Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do people often ask how you are doing in English?

Do you ever want to be honest in saying that things aren’t good?

If you’re like so many people then you may find that sometimes things aren’t great, and yet you aren’t sure how to address this in conversation.

We’re going to look at how to address this and what to say when asked how you are and you don’t necessarily want to be completely honest.

This is a fine balance and one that you want to know how to address in your conversations, and we’ll help you to do just that.

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How Do You Answer How Are You Sincerely?

You may wonder like many students do how you should answer the question “how are you?”

The confusion likely stems from the fact that sometimes things aren’t great and yet you will often hear people in the US answer by saying something like “good, and you?”

Even if things aren’t good, you may often hear this sort of response and so it can be a confusing scenario.

There have been some crazy times going on in the world,but this isn’t just about that.

Sometimes you want to connect with someone and discuss how you are doing, but you both know that things aren’t perfect.

You may have something going on in your life that is negative or tough, but you still want to connect without getting too in depth on this subject.

Just because things are tough and it is a known fact, you still should reach out to others.

Today we’re talking about how to respond in these tough situations without getting in too much depth on the subject.

This offers a nice balance between insincerely saying that you’re okay and yet not getting into too much detail of what is going on in your life.

How To Truly Answer How You’re Doing

When somebody asks how you are doing, you want to be sincere but not necessarily get into too much detail.

If somebody asks “how are you?” in passing, you may not necessarily want to get in depth with this.

If you are going through a tough time, then sometimes you don’t want to say that in conversation.

You may wish to let them know that you are going through a tough time, but without giving it all away or putting it all out there.

Here are some examples of instances or circumstances where you can honestly say that things aren’t all that great.

You may not necessarily want to touch on it, but sometimes just letting this other person know that things aren’t great is sufficient.

  • The virus: You don’t have to mention this specifically, as it’s something that affects us all. You may however be down because of it or have some sort of circumstances as a result. Everyone understands this and how the mindset can change often. This is a time when you don’t have to necessarily say that everything is great, because it more than likely is not.
  • A challenge in life: We all go through tough times in life and that’s natural. It may be a breakup or a change in relationship status, or perhaps it’s an illness that you or somebody close to you is suffering with. You may have lost a job or had a pay cut, as these are such common circumstances right now. Challenges are a part of life and it’s up to you to figure out how you touch on this in conversation, if you do at all.
  • A loss: It may be a job loss or it may be losing somebody close to you. It may be something very personal to you that others don’t know about. Alternatively it may be something that others know well about and perhaps aren’t sure how to address. In any case, any type of loss can be very difficult and may very well be something that you don’t wish to address in conversation. This is a time when you may wish to acknowledge that things aren’t great, and then just move on.

There can be many different times when things aren’t great, but you don’t want to get into it.

You will learn some helpful phrases to address things and move on, but in the meantime you have to recognize the circumstances that may bring you down.

There may be plenty of other times when you feel down or frustrated, but these offer a good starting point to understand when you may be in this type of situation in conversation.

Phrases To Honestly Answer The Question

You recognize that life has challenges, but how do you address this tough time without getting into too much detail?

What are some phrases you can use when expressing your feelings to the person who asks you?

  • In light of everything/the situation: This basically says that even with everything else going on, you are okay. It’s a quick acknowledgment to some negative circumstances before you move on with the conversation.

Lindsay: “How’s everything going? How have you been?”

Michelle: “, things are fine, in light of the situation. We are chugging along.”

  • Considering everything: This works much in the same way because it’s briefly touching on that circumstance and then moving on. The person you are talking to will likely know what you are referring to, and therefore it works well.

Michelle: “How are you? I have been thinking about you.”

Lindsay: “You know what? I’m really okay, considering everything.”

  • Despite everything: It’s the same sort of acknowledgment that you can use in conversation. If somebody asks you how you are, then you can use this if there are some negative things going on in your liffe.

Lindsay: “How are things?”

Michelle: “You know, despite everything, I’m really okay.”

These phrases simply and effectively acknowledge that there is a problem, and sometimes that’s all you can do.

You may not have a solution or even know the right thing to say, but you are at least acknowledging that things are tough right now.

There are a couple of other phrases that work in this sort of situation as well.

  • Chugging along: This was used above in the example and it works well. It says that you are moving along or moving forward without getting into too much detail. You could say “Oh even with everything going on, I’m chugging along.”
  • Taking it day by day/one day at a time: This may be all that you can do when you are dealing with a tough situation. All we can do is take things one day at a time, and this addresses that perfectly. You might say “I’m fine. Just taking it one day at a time.”
  • Taking each day as it comes: This is very similar to the previous example as you are just taking it one day at a time. It’s effective in showing how you are dealing with things. You might say “I’m taking each day as it comes right now and trying to relax.”

Things Are Often Not Perfect and You Want To Be Real

Life can be complicated and tough sometimes, and we all go through these times.

There are many times where not everything is perfect, and you want to acknowledge that with the person you are talking to.

Sometimes you may be going through a lot, but you aren’t going to mention it in that moment.

No matter what you are going through, you want to figure out the right time to discuss it and how to handle it.

These phrases help us to move forward without focusing on the negative, and sometimes that’s the very best thing.

Instead of pretending like things are perfect, which we often do in American culture, we are saying we are ok even though there is something difficult going on.

Why is this so important?

It helps to demonstrate that things aren’t perfect which is a cultural thing that can be rather negative.

You don’t want to pretend, and using one of these phrases helps you to be honest and upfront without getting into too much.

You’re touching on things without getting into detail, so it’s genuine but not taking over the conversation.

This is how to keep the conversation going strong without skipping past things when somebody asks “how are you?”

It’s all about balance, and these phrases help you to achieve that in your conversations.

We will do a followup on how to respond on the other end of this conversation if somebody seems to be off.

You want to consider this and therefore you have to think about what to say or not say.

Do you ask questions, do you try and get more out of the person to see if he or she is okay?

This can be uncomfortable and it is not always easy to make this decision, but we will talk more about this in our follow up.


Things are not always perfect, and if we want to go a little deeper than “I’m fine thanks” we can do that without getting too deep into the conversation.

These are very powerful for connection, and can help you to connect in an entirely new and different way. 

We hope you have only happy times, but if you need to add these in , they could be helpful if you need to address that things aren’t exactly perfect.

These can work as an effective reminder to the person you are talking to that you are going through something tough.

We all go through difficult times, and now you know how to address this without getting too in depth in your conversations.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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