“How are you?” It’s a question often asked as a precursor to a conversation, however, it can be extremely difficult to decide on an answer.

The difficult part of the question comes from the fact that anything other than a chipper “good” is an invitation for a follow-up question, or lead the conversation afterwards to a different direction.

Say for example you respond with “tired’. You may get a “join the club” response, which would be optimal. However, say you give that response to your boss. You could establish in their minds a perception of you always being tired, resulting in your performance being looked at with more scrutiny, leading to more stress and eventually burnout.

That issue exists with nearly every potential response to that question. Anything you say can change perceptions, causing short and long term effects in your health, mental physical and economical.

So what does one say to such a question?

Obviously, “good” works, however, it may not be an accurate statement. Often times, unless something just happened, I’m mostly stateless. I don’t think about how I’m feeling. Or perhaps a feeling is fleeting, such as the irritation at the fact that my spiral notebook’s spirals are slightly bent. Or the moment where you buy something online on a whim that you regret instantly afterwards.

TL;DR: This question sucks.