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Hi dear everyone,

I hope everyone is well. I'm not sure if this topic is a language issue or maybe more a social issue, but I'll ask it anyway in case anyone can help me understand something. I'm residing in UK now and occasionally have a chance to be in one of british offices. Almost every conversation begins with questions "How are you?", "Are you allright?", etc. Especially on the phone, when people engage in converstations with new people, asking for something, doing business. The fact about these questions is that 95% of answers is affirmative and the rest are some sort of jokes, basically also meaning Yes. I don't mean to be rude here, but to ask my friend "How are you" and ask some guy on the phone you've never met before are different things. The difference is pretty simple. In the later case you just don't expect to hear NO. Otherwise the situation becomes awkward, as usually you don't intend to hear about any problems the guy may possibly have - you're calling simply to do business. The people on the other end of the wire perfectly understand this, and naturally answer Yes.

My question is, when people ask "How are you?" Do they really mean that, or they just try to be polite? How to answer these questions? If I am not OK, if I have a problem, should I answer Yes anyway, or something like "Not quite" is also possible? Is asking "How are you?" a must in communication with people you hardly even know? What do you think?
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It's just a polite conversational exchange to start things off. Your friends may be interested in the truth but no-one else is.

It's not essential to start that way yourself but if someone asks you you have to reply in a positive and brief way, and then ask them back. Certainly don't go giving them any details unless you are very close to them. It's just that the British find it a bit rude to launch straight into 'business' so this little exchange gives us a way to get started talking to someone.

Just say 'Fine thanks, and how are you?'
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Nona The BritIt's just a polite conversational exchange to start things off.Y our friends may be interested in the truth but no-one else is.

It's not essential to start that way yourself but if someone asks you you have to reply in a positive and brief way, and then ask them back. Certainly don't go giving them any details unless you are very close to them. It's just that the British find it a bit rude to launch straight into 'business' so this little exchange gives us a way to get started talking to someone.

Just say 'Fine thanks, and how are you?'
Hi Nona,
Thank you for your reply! It spurs me to carry on a bit further on this topic, mainly about how people feel when they ask and being asked these questions. Personally, I feel guilty asking somebody how they are, when in fact I don't really care. It's like a small lying in a way. Maybe the solution is to think of this question as a part of "Hello"? To me, something like "It's good to see/hear you" (When you really mean it) is much more polite or at least sincere. Do people in America or Australia have the same greeting, "Hello, how are you"?
Vanyatka
Nona The Brit
It's just a polite conversational exchange to start things off.Y our friends may be interested in the truth but no-one else is.

It's not essential to start that way yourself but if someone asks you you have to reply in a positive and brief way, and then ask them back. Certainly don't go giving them any details unless you are very close to them. It's just that the British find it a bit rude to launch straight into 'business' so this little exchange gives us a way to get started talking to someone.

Just say 'Fine thanks, and how are you?'

Hi Nona,
Thank you for your reply! It spurs me to carry on a bit further on this topic, mainly about how people feel when they ask and being asked these questions. Personally, I feel guilty asking somebody how they are, when in fact I don't really care. It's like a small lying in a way. Maybe the solution is to think of this question as a part of "Hello"? To me, something like "It's good to see/hear you" (When you really mean it) is much more polite or at least sincere. Do people in America or Australia have the same greeting, "Hello, how are you"?

Hi,

In the , you will hear the similar greetings in the morning whether it’s in the corridor to the office or coffee room. “How’re you doing?”, “how’s your day ?”, and so on. Most of the time, they are meaningless. It’s just a way to acknowledge someone’s presence and avoid being rude.