Usually, when people ask “how are you doing?” or “how did <that event> go?”, most people respond with “good” or “fine” or “not bad”. If you think about it, what do these answers really mean? What do they even tell you? (If they were feeling bad, would they say that?)

Many times, these are really quick responses, almost automated, like saying hi to someone. (Sometimes, it can be part of a greeting. “Hi, how’s it going?” “Good.”) When you’re passing each other in the hallway, that kind of quick response may be appropriate.

However, I’ve found myself wanting to steer away from those kinds of answers. In my attempt to be appropriately transparent, I want to give an actual answer. Grant it, it doesn’t mean that I share every minute detail of my life with everyone. However, I’m attempting to avoid the cliches.

For instance, if someone were to ask me how I’m doing and I really wasn’t feeling great, I would respond accordingly. Perhaps it’s fatigue (although I try not to use “Been tired and busy” unless I am very much “tired and busy”; otherwise, that’s a flag that I need to ensure I’m less tired and busy). Maybe after a couple of days off, I might respond, “I feel more rested.” Giving an actual response forces me to quickly assess where I’m at, and to share appropriately.

If someone asks me how a past experience went, rather than just reply “It was good”, I want to find more descriptive words. A few weeks ago, I led a couple of workshops. While they weren’t well attended (there were much more “sexier” topics than mine), the participants seemed to value the content and perspective. So when someone asked me how those workshops went, my response was “They were intimate, condensed and well-received.” “Intimate” because there were few people but it made for an engaging atmosphere. “Condensed” because I basically compressed about five hours of material into three. “Well-received” based on the feedback from the participants.

The next time someone asks you “how’s it going?” or “how did it go?”, take a moment and think about what you want to share rather than the usual “good” response. I think sharing an actual thought is the start of a great conversation.