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Why is "how are you" asked when the reply is always "I am fine" even if not so?

 
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In offices specially in the meetings it is often asked "how are you" at the beginning of the meeting. I have seen that even if the employee is not well he replies with "I am fine" or" I am good" . I have never heard anyone say anything other than this. Is it not a meaningless question where the other person has to say "I am good" irrespective of anything.
 
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It's just a form of greeting. In a business setting people don't really want to hear that your wife ran away with the baker, or that you contracted an incurable disease. If a friend asks you this, it's more likely that he/she is actually interested in an honest answer. It would be OK to answer "well, actually..." if it's just something mildly bad - depends on the circumstances, though.
 
Satyaprakash Joshii
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So does that mean one has to always reply with say "I am good. Thank you"  or say  "I am good. What about you?"  or say "I am good. Hope you are good too"
 
Tim Moores
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No. I mentioned two situations that might be different.
 
Satyaprakash Joshii
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I think only 1 of those 2 situations you mentioned is for office?  The first one.
 
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Tim Moores wrote:It's just a form of greeting. . . .

There is even a name for it: phatic speech.
 
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When I started working in an office, someone suggested to me that "Fine, thank you for asking. How are you?" is a far better answer than "good." It's a lot of ceremony, but it makes people happy...

That said, sometimes I answer "how are you" with an elevator pitch. Like when my book came out. If anyone asked how I was, I'd brag about the book .
 
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Satyaprakash Joshii wrote:I think only 1 of those 2 situations you mentioned is for office?  The first one.



Not entirely, no. It's quite possible that some people in the office are your friends. The "business settings" which Tim mentioned could include meetings with customers, auditors, senior vice-presidents, and so on.
 
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That is a cultural thing, or even might be just applicable to those countries where main language is English.

In the country where I born, or in the neighbour countries we don’t have a habit to ask such thing.

However, I don’t think that even in an office meeting you need to answer just “I am fine, thank you, how are you?”.

You can answer with the same positive message, but also include something extra, which might break some distance between the peers or raise extra discussions, so people would get a bit more relaxed if they don’t know each other well.

For instance:
- “How are you?”
- “I am fine, thank you. I hope you too, except the fact that we managed to run out of coffee in an office this morning, sorry about that, but find me a single programmer who drinks coffee (with a cheeky smile)”

Get an idea..
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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I find "How are you" is often asked in the hallway. Often both people are still walking.
 
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Think of it as a network protocol:

How are you? - INQ
I am fine -  ACK

You have now established a communications session. Feel free to interchange data or close the session.
 
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A colleague of mine in Singapore liked to answer "Fine without you." He was, of course, being a smartass.
 
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