“How are you? How’s it going?”

“How are you? How’s it going?” This is a question we get asked all the time by friends and acquaintances often to kick off a conversation. Most of the time, we respond very briefly, with positive superlatives like “Great!”, or “Good”. This is a terrible response. It makes you seem boring, and not that interested in speaking with this other person. More so, it does nothing to advance the conversation. “How are you? How’s it going?” is such an open ended question, it is asking to not be answered with one word.

I challenge you to answer this question with substance. Talk about your day, talk about how you’re actually feeling, talk about something on your mind, literally talk about anything as long as you talk about something! Dont worry, I used to be the person, that always answered with “Good” or “Great!” Once I started answering instead with something real, my conversations got immensely better. This makes total sense. This first question sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Have a real answer, and you immediately show to the person you are engaged, you are being honest, you are being yourself, you are being open, you are being trusting, and you are ready for a real awesome talk.

The other point to remember is when you are asked “How are you? How’s it going?”, you are not going to be selfish jerk and inevitably ask the question back to the other person, “How about yourself?” If you respond very briefly, you are inviting the other person to speak briefly. But if you give a real, open, honest answer, you are tons more likely to get that type of a response back. This is because of one of the most basic laws of social psychology, the Reciprocity Principle.

The Reciprocity Principle states that in almost all social situation, we pay back what we received from others. So to apply to this situation, if your answer to “How are you? How’s it going?” is insightful, long, honest, and open, you are much more likely to get the same thing. And when you do get that response back, all of the sudden and very easily, your relationship with this person will get better, get to the next level. You will be seen to this person as someone who is open and honest, you will be seen to this person as someone who is not boring, you will be seen as someone they look for and look forward to talking to, and you will be seen by this person as someone who is more awesome. And you will see all these things in the people you talk to!

Whether it’s your best friend, someone you just met, or someone in between, it’s very likely you are going to be asked by this person some variation of “How are you? How’s it going?” Challenge yourself to be different and say something that is more than one word, but instead insightful, open and honest. I guarantee you your conversations, and more importantly, your relationships will get a heck of a lot better.