How do you answer the question: “What’s new?”

How many times do we get asked this question on a daily or weekly basis? And how many times do we simply give the answer “Not much, same old stuff”.

I think the question “What’s new?” is a really good indicator of how engaged you are in the projects and activities in your life. If you are consistently giving a ho hum answer, then perhaps you need to evaluate the meaning and purpose behind your work. Think about how boring you sound when your basically telling the world that you have absolutely nothing interesting happening in your life.

Of course, everybody gets caught up in the minutia of having too much to do, getting underpaid and barely having enough time to eat lunch; however, it’s important to remained inspired and passionate about what you do, even if your day to day is boring.

If you don’t like what you do but are tied to the job because of circumstance, then find something outside of work that fuels your passion. It could be taking a sommelier course or   joining a fantasy football league. Pick something that interests you so that when somebody asks you the question “What’s new?”, you actually have something to talk about.

Today, when somebody asks me that question, I’m going to tell them all about my commitment to getting my workouts done first thing in the morning before 7:00am.

262 comments

  1. I think it depends on how much time you have to answer…. obviously if it’s a phone call, you have about 3 seconds, which is why most people say “nothing much”. If it’s a coffee meeting, then people obviously have more time to go into detail. It also depends on what the relationship is between the person asking the question and the person being asked. If there’s no prior relationship, people just answer “nothing much” so that they can quickly seque into the business at hand.

    1. There’s a better question to ask: what are you working on that’s got you excited. The art of conversation has devolved. Kudos to Matt for recognizing this.

      1. Great feedback Jacob! One of the reasons why I enjoy going to a business book club is to practice the art of conversation and share ideas with people who are plugged into what’s happening in the world.

    2. I think this is the key to the other side of the “argument” that would “oppose” what you’ve written in your blog. Of course, there’s no actual argument, haha. BUT – I do like the idea of trying to give an honest, interesting answer, even if (or especially if!) it’s quick and more fascinating than “nothing much.” (I like your post, by the way!)

    3. I think we say nothing much because we feel that no one cares about what we have to say, so giving a nonchalant answer doesn’t impose. That is my feelings. If we all started to give a damn about what others are saying and start listening and engaging in conversations again we wouldn’t have to give short blah answers.
      Plus we need to start focusing on the positive things instead of just giving a bullet list of all that is wrong. If you cannot think of any positive things you need to re-evaluate your thinking. This is my little rant today!

    4. I think is has a lot to do with the relationship between the person asking the question and the person being asked, but there is more to it than just a relationship existing. If a relationship exists, the way the person being asked views the asker and the perceived asker’s opinion of the person being asked come into play.

      For example: If the person being asked does not feel like the asker really cares and thinks it is more of a formality than a question with a desired answer the person likely to give an answer like “nothing much” so that the asker will move along. If the person being asked does not especially like the asker they could give the “nothing much” answer so that the asker will leave them alone.

      I agree with Jacob in that if you want a better answer ask a better question.

  2. I think it depends on how much time you have to answer…. obviously if it’s a phone call, you have about 3 seconds, which is why most people say “nothing much”. If it’s a coffee meeting, then people obviously have more time to go into detail. It also depends on what the relationship is between the person asking the question and the person being asked. If there’s no prior relationship, people just answer “nothing much” so that they can quickly seque into the business at hand.

    1. There’s a better question to ask: what are you working on that’s got you excited. The art of conversation has devolved. Kudos to Matt for recognizing this.

      1. Great feedback Jacob! One of the reasons why I enjoy going to a business book club is to practice the art of conversation and share ideas with people who are plugged into what’s happening in the world.

    2. I think this is the key to the other side of the “argument” that would “oppose” what you’ve written in your blog. Of course, there’s no actual argument, haha. BUT – I do like the idea of trying to give an honest, interesting answer, even if (or especially if!) it’s quick and more fascinating than “nothing much.” (I like your post, by the way!)

    3. I think we say nothing much because we feel that no one cares about what we have to say, so giving a nonchalant answer doesn’t impose. That is my feelings. If we all started to give a damn about what others are saying and start listening and engaging in conversations again we wouldn’t have to give short blah answers.
      Plus we need to start focusing on the positive things instead of just giving a bullet list of all that is wrong. If you cannot think of any positive things you need to re-evaluate your thinking. This is my little rant today!

    4. I think is has a lot to do with the relationship between the person asking the question and the person being asked, but there is more to it than just a relationship existing. If a relationship exists, the way the person being asked views the asker and the perceived asker’s opinion of the person being asked come into play.

      For example: If the person being asked does not feel like the asker really cares and thinks it is more of a formality than a question with a desired answer the person likely to give an answer like “nothing much” so that the asker will move along. If the person being asked does not especially like the asker they could give the “nothing much” answer so that the asker will leave them alone.

      I agree with Jacob in that if you want a better answer ask a better question.

  3. Great insight George. I think that people often speed through that question as more of a formality. The basic idea behind this post is that it’s important to always keep engaged with new projects and ideas, if not life can get a bit stale.

  4. I love the idea of changing the question to “what are you working on that’s got you excited?” or something that inspires engagement rather than passive nicety. That idea rocks.

    I’m a full-time freelance writer and I do a TON of profiles — many of them Q&As. One of my favorite things to do is to throw out the stale “Who is your mentor?” and “What is your inspiration?” questions, and come up with something really bizarre and unexpected. That’s how you get people interested — and know they’re engaged.

    So change the question … that’s the first step! :)

    1. I totally agree! I can tell when people are passionate about what they are working on or just going through the motions. It’s way more fun to talk to somebody who actually cares about what’s getting them excited these days.

  5. I love the idea of changing the question to “what are you working on that’s got you excited?” or something that inspires engagement rather than passive nicety. That idea rocks.

    I’m a full-time freelance writer and I do a TON of profiles — many of them Q&As. One of my favorite things to do is to throw out the stale “Who is your mentor?” and “What is your inspiration?” questions, and come up with something really bizarre and unexpected. That’s how you get people interested — and know they’re engaged.

    So change the question … that’s the first step! :)

    1. I totally agree! I can tell when people are passionate about what they are working on or just going through the motions. It’s way more fun to talk to somebody who actually cares about what’s getting them excited these days.

      1. Doug, you made me smile because I call checkout clerks’ bluffs all the time. It’s a requirement of their jobs to say, “How are you today?” I pause in loading my groceries on the conveyor belt, look them in the eyes and say, “I’m well. How are YOU today?” and there is genuine interest in my voice. I wait for a response, still looking them in the eyes. Usually, I get a surprised but grateful look. The responses vary, but they’re not the important thing. The connection is.

        To reach out and emotionally connect with a total stranger, let them know that what they do is appreciated – it has become one of my little missions in life. Call me crazy, but it makes me smile thinking about it.

  6. “What’s new?” Not that question.
    I believe most people ask the question without really expecting or wanting a real answer. It’s like asking “How are you doing?” It’s just something people say now. I’m sure more than 50% of people that ask the question “What’s New?” really don’t want to hear about how you traded Blake Griffin in your fantasy basketball league last night. Like George said above it definitely depends on the situation you’re in and the people that are asking the question.

    1. I agree that the people asking aren’t expecting or want a real answer. When I answer that question with detail you either get a surprised look (followed by a glance at the watch … or cell phone) or their eyes roll back in their head!

  7. “What’s new?” Not that question.
    I believe most people ask the question without really expecting or wanting a real answer. It’s like asking “How are you doing?” It’s just something people say now. I’m sure more than 50% of people that ask the question “What’s New?” really don’t want to hear about how you traded Blake Griffin in your fantasy basketball league last night. Like George said above it definitely depends on the situation you’re in and the people that are asking the question.

    1. I agree that the people asking aren’t expecting or want a real answer. When I answer that question with detail you either get a surprised look (followed by a glance at the watch … or cell phone) or their eyes roll back in their head!

  8. Nice post, concise but with a point! I wrote a similar post (much longer, sorry readers eyeballs…) about answering ‘What are you up to now?’ if your life is the opposite of boring and you have in fact no idea what you will be doing a week from now. Shameless plug over with, I would agree that the person asking ‘Whats new?’ probably doesn’t care too much, unless it is a close friend and at which point we can each elaborate or exaggerate as much as we please. :D

  9. Nice post, concise but with a point! I wrote a similar post (much longer, sorry readers eyeballs…) about answering ‘What are you up to now?’ if your life is the opposite of boring and you have in fact no idea what you will be doing a week from now. Shameless plug over with, I would agree that the person asking ‘Whats new?’ probably doesn’t care too much, unless it is a close friend and at which point we can each elaborate or exaggerate as much as we please. :D

  10. “What’s New?” Thoughtful pause… “Well there is a robot in Kentucky that can dance like Michael Jackson, and Sing like a toaster.” Another thoughtful pause “Oh.. Coooool”

    Woofs

  11. “What’s New?” Thoughtful pause… “Well there is a robot in Kentucky that can dance like Michael Jackson, and Sing like a toaster.” Another thoughtful pause “Oh.. Coooool”

    Woofs

  12. I’m going to remember Paul’s woofs reply about the robot in Kentucky. Like what you had to say and made me think differently about the question and be prepared you’re going to be asked so make it good. . . just saying.

  13. I’m going to remember Paul’s woofs reply about the robot in Kentucky. Like what you had to say and made me think differently about the question and be prepared you’re going to be asked so make it good. . . just saying.

  14. As a person, I always take an interest in what people are up to in their lives, what they’re feeling and such (I’m not saying I’m an amazing person or anything like that, it’s just the way it is).

    I find myself asking the ‘What’s new?’ question alot…I’ll normally word it, ‘Anything new or exciting going on here, at home, anywhere..anything…?’. So often I’ll get the ‘Nothing much really’ answer.

    From that point I’ll bring something up that related to them and we can talk from there.

    However, when somebody asks me that question, I always find I have a story to tell.

    I’ve never really thought about it much until I read this entry.

    So….today whilst on my jog…I noticed that two girl (who I had seen about 5 minutes prior) had left their food wrappers under a bench on the street, when there was a bin maybe 20 steps from them. It made me feel annoyed.

    1. One of the reasons why I wrote this post is because I noticed that it is easy for me to go on autopilot and give a canned answer. I never really thought about it much until I started realizing that I needed some cool projects to talk about when somebody asked me “What’s new?”

  15. As a person, I always take an interest in what people are up to in their lives, what they’re feeling and such (I’m not saying I’m an amazing person or anything like that, it’s just the way it is).

    I find myself asking the ‘What’s new?’ question alot…I’ll normally word it, ‘Anything new or exciting going on here, at home, anywhere..anything…?’. So often I’ll get the ‘Nothing much really’ answer.

    From that point I’ll bring something up that related to them and we can talk from there.

    However, when somebody asks me that question, I always find I have a story to tell.

    I’ve never really thought about it much until I read this entry.

    So….today whilst on my jog…I noticed that two girl (who I had seen about 5 minutes prior) had left their food wrappers under a bench on the street, when there was a bin maybe 20 steps from them. It made me feel annoyed.

    1. One of the reasons why I wrote this post is because I noticed that it is easy for me to go on autopilot and give a canned answer. I never really thought about it much until I started realizing that I needed some cool projects to talk about when somebody asked me “What’s new?”

  16. You’re human, you should be able to relate to this: consider that, at times, people are going through difficult situations.

    Asking them, “What’s new?”… Well, that may rehash some unpleasantries going on in that person’s life.

    “What’s new,” then can feel embarrassing or intimidating, and that person’s not necessarily going to open up that world to you. They may even feel defensive and shy away/”clam up.”

    With this in mind, we have to have make sure there’s some sensitivity and respect for people’s privacy.

    Additonally, it can sound a little entitled to press someone to “report” to you with a “What’s new” report, just because you may feel indulged to know and because you may want to talk about yourself. The reality is that no one owes you anything.

    Instead, perhaps focus more of your concern about another person towards building your future together – related:

    http://beyondthefaceoffacebook.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/dear-chronic-daters/

  17. You’re human, you should be able to relate to this: consider that, at times, people are going through difficult situations.

    Asking them, “What’s new?”… Well, that may rehash some unpleasantries going on in that person’s life.

    “What’s new,” then can feel embarrassing or intimidating, and that person’s not necessarily going to open up that world to you. They may even feel defensive and shy away/”clam up.”

    With this in mind, we have to have make sure there’s some sensitivity and respect for people’s privacy.

    Additonally, it can sound a little entitled to press someone to “report” to you with a “What’s new” report, just because you may feel indulged to know and because you may want to talk about yourself. The reality is that no one owes you anything.

    Instead, perhaps focus more of your concern about another person towards building your future together – related:

    http://beyondthefaceoffacebook.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/dear-chronic-daters/

  18. I am very happy to report that, of late, I have more cool things to work toward than I have time to handle them. This is somewhat new for me. Reason: I decided I’d better start taking some risks while I still had time to make some mistakes and figure some good stuff out. It’s too slow and boring the other way. Thanks for the reminder, to thank myself for the overall effect. Because on a given day, what with risk taking and all, I can catch myself believing that I’m a total dope.

    1. Glad to hear you’re taking on some cool projects. One of my friends is a photographer who decided that this year, he was going to develop a new creative piece every week for a total of 52 creative projects. Check it out for a little inspiration at http://www.fiftytwocreatives.com

    1. Thanks for your comment. I wrote this post, precisely because I was wondering about how my current approach to life reflected in my answer to that question.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I wrote this post, precisely because I was wondering about how my current approach to life reflected in my answer to that question.

  19. You’ve a great point, but it seems that most people who ask “What’s new?” don’t truly care and won’t actually listen when you do give them a non-standard response, I’m sad to say. I wonder if we’re not all too tech. plugged in and the result is this apparent lack of social skills. Read Jake Reilly’s The Amish Project for a better understanding of what I mean: http://news.yahoo.com/90-days-without-cell-phone-email-social-media-015300257.html

    I could be wrong or it could be the cold medication talking, but those are my two cents.

    1. I agree with you Kate! Technology has allowed us to communicate with the masses while at the same time creating barriers to one to one communication. Most people who ask the question are probably only partially listening to your answer. Perhaps increasing engagement is really about piquing their interest.

  20. You’ve a great point, but it seems that most people who ask “What’s new?” don’t truly care and won’t actually listen when you do give them a non-standard response, I’m sad to say. I wonder if we’re not all too tech. plugged in and the result is this apparent lack of social skills. Read Jake Reilly’s The Amish Project for a better understanding of what I mean: http://news.yahoo.com/90-days-without-cell-phone-email-social-media-015300257.html

    I could be wrong or it could be the cold medication talking, but those are my two cents.

    1. I agree with you Kate! Technology has allowed us to communicate with the masses while at the same time creating barriers to one to one communication. Most people who ask the question are probably only partially listening to your answer. Perhaps increasing engagement is really about piquing their interest.

      1. Matt,
        Your posting was so well done, I found myself venting in a post several comments down awaiting moderation. Since we are in an age of “Jerks and Criminals” seeking a free ride off someone that might have made a poor choice in a post…..would you be kind enough to remove comment posting on your site? Advance thanks.

  21. I agree with what you wrote. When someone asks me “what’s new?” I keep it short. I don’t get involved in the answer unless I know I’m going to be with them for several hours.

    val
    valentinedefrancis.wordpress.com

  22. I agree with what you wrote. When someone asks me “what’s new?” I keep it short. I don’t get involved in the answer unless I know I’m going to be with them for several hours.

    val
    valentinedefrancis.wordpress.com

  23. I think that ‘What’s new?’ is a great way to get the conversation going in an interesting direction. If you have been engaging yourself in interesting activities, you will have an interesting answer – and that could get the conversation, that would have been short and dull, roll in a whole new direction. Who knows, we may even get insights from the other person that could broaden our horizon.

  24. I think that ‘What’s new?’ is a great way to get the conversation going in an interesting direction. If you have been engaging yourself in interesting activities, you will have an interesting answer – and that could get the conversation, that would have been short and dull, roll in a whole new direction. Who knows, we may even get insights from the other person that could broaden our horizon.

  25. Ah, good point. I think sometimes when I do say nothing’s new it’s because I don’t realize that what might not be really new to me would be new news to the person who’s asking. Sometimes I also just don’t feel like sharing =P But I do get what you’re saying and it’s always good to be cognizant of what you’re really saying when you just give the auto-pilot response to “What’s new?” :)

  26. Matt, sometimes people say what’s new when they just have nothing to say (I’m a big culprit of that) so how do I know they really want to hear? Also I wonder if the answer is linked to self worth or fear of judgement?, I mean who cares what I’ve been doing when Angelina and Brad are about to break their vow to gay rights and tie the knot?
    Ps love you other post by the way. :-) thank you.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Love your response. I guess what I’m getting at with this post is that it’s so easy to brush the question of “What’s new?” away without giving it any serious consideration. This resonated with me one day because I realized that I had not given a decent answer to that question in quite a while. Glad you liked the other post, that one was alot of fun!

  27. Matt, sometimes people say what’s new when they just have nothing to say (I’m a big culprit of that) so how do I know they really want to hear? Also I wonder if the answer is linked to self worth or fear of judgement?, I mean who cares what I’ve been doing when Angelina and Brad are about to break their vow to gay rights and tie the knot?
    Ps love you other post by the way. :-) thank you.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Love your response. I guess what I’m getting at with this post is that it’s so easy to brush the question of “What’s new?” away without giving it any serious consideration. This resonated with me one day because I realized that I had not given a decent answer to that question in quite a while. Glad you liked the other post, that one was alot of fun!

  28. I’m another person who hates this question. Most people who ask it are mere acquaintances who really do just want the short if boring answer of “not much” or “the usual”. Anyone who really cares will tend to know enough about my life to ask more directed questions, questions that show they pay attention when I open my mouth. Why would I waste my time talking if they’re only going to pretend to listen.

    – Kali

  29. My best friend always askes me “What’s new?” and I always reply the same way – “No, you first. My response will take too long if I have to go down the list.” :) Thanks for the post. I really enjoyed reading it!

  30. My best friend always askes me “What’s new?” and I always reply the same way – “No, you first. My response will take too long if I have to go down the list.” :) Thanks for the post. I really enjoyed reading it!

  31. They are truly times I would just love to answer that question….but I do the same dumb act in a response. If I could, I would say such things, as “My next door neighbor is a true jerk. Considering how they treat their 16 year old dog, I can tell they have little regard for their fellow humans.” The next deadly question on their part, would be “How Come.” Then I could just blow off their socks by telling my story. Of course, nothing would be gained by sharing my story, since when we sell the house, we will more than likely, tell the prospective buyers “What nice neighbors they are.” No sense in taking the shine off the granite or the beauty of a golf course lot with our huge sparkling pool! Beside that, they more than likely, will come over to the new owners, asking to borrow a bottle of wine, after they move in. That is what politicians, are generally about.

  32. They are truly times I would just love to answer that question….but I do the same dumb act in a response. If I could, I would say such things, as “My next door neighbor is a true jerk. Considering how they treat their 16 year old dog, I can tell they have little regard for their fellow humans.” The next deadly question on their part, would be “How Come.” Then I could just blow off their socks by telling my story. Of course, nothing would be gained by sharing my story, since when we sell the house, we will more than likely, tell the prospective buyers “What nice neighbors they are.” No sense in taking the shine off the granite or the beauty of a golf course lot with our huge sparkling pool! Beside that, they more than likely, will come over to the new owners, asking to borrow a bottle of wine, after they move in. That is what politicians, are generally about.

  33. Hey Matt, What’s new? I most certainly heard – “hey man I am excited, I wrote something on my blog today and a lot people think I did a great job… in fact, I just made freshly pressed! Thanks for asking!
    Great job man!

  34. It all depends on circumstances and the intentions of the person who is asking. In Ireland, where I live, people ask “what’s new?” or “how are you?” while they actually couldn’t care less about how I am and what is new in my life. Answering “I’m fine/nothing much/same old” is just a part of this tedious protocol :)

  35. It all depends on circumstances and the intentions of the person who is asking. In Ireland, where I live, people ask “what’s new?” or “how are you?” while they actually couldn’t care less about how I am and what is new in my life. Answering “I’m fine/nothing much/same old” is just a part of this tedious protocol :)

  36. Thanks for this post. It’s true, no one wants to hear “same old-same old,” including ME. You’ve inspired me to pass along some good news or exciting tidbit next time someone asks.

  37. Thanks for this post. It’s true, no one wants to hear “same old-same old,” including ME. You’ve inspired me to pass along some good news or exciting tidbit next time someone asks.

  38. I kind of equate this to the ‘How are you?” as they keep on walking by. If they truly have an interest, then I take the time to respond and I try when I can to provide enthusiasm behind it or find the positive in what I am doing.
    Sometimes life takes a swing at you, and I just have to be real.
    When I ask someone that question, I make eye contact so they know that I am interested.
    For those that are the whiney, sniffely, gossipy sort, I don’t even take the time, with the exception of a ‘good morning’.

  39. I kind of equate this to the ‘How are you?” as they keep on walking by. If they truly have an interest, then I take the time to respond and I try when I can to provide enthusiasm behind it or find the positive in what I am doing.
    Sometimes life takes a swing at you, and I just have to be real.
    When I ask someone that question, I make eye contact so they know that I am interested.
    For those that are the whiney, sniffely, gossipy sort, I don’t even take the time, with the exception of a ‘good morning’.

  40. Like some others, I don’t give a ho-hum answer because I have a boring life but more because I highly doubt that anyone really wants the answer. We live in a society sadly that has people ask, “How are you?” while not even making eye contact and moving on before you can even get an answer out. I’ve pretty much given up on ever giving an answer. “What’s new?” fits in the same category.

    On the other hand, I always try to mean the question when I ask it.

  41. Great post! It reminds me of what Joseph Jaworski wrote in “Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership”
    “I had always thought that we used language to describe the world…To the contrary, it is through language that we create the world…”
    Looking forward to the next time someone asks me “What’s New?” my answer will surprise or startle them!

  42. Great post! It reminds me of what Joseph Jaworski wrote in “Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership”
    “I had always thought that we used language to describe the world…To the contrary, it is through language that we create the world…”
    Looking forward to the next time someone asks me “What’s New?” my answer will surprise or startle them!

  43. One of the things I LOVE about being a therapist is that when I ask someone (who knows I am a therapist) how they are doing or what’s new, I usually get an actual answer and not a canned response. And, depending on who’s asking and the current setting, I try to give genuine answers right back. Great post!

  44. One of the things I LOVE about being a therapist is that when I ask someone (who knows I am a therapist) how they are doing or what’s new, I usually get an actual answer and not a canned response. And, depending on who’s asking and the current setting, I try to give genuine answers right back. Great post!

  45. I think when most people ask “what new” or “what up” or “how are you” they dont really care what the answer is. I think those types of generic greetings are more of an automated conditioned response to coming in contact with another human being then an actual inquiry into their well being. If you actually stopped to give them an honest answer they probly would not be listening, if not already in the process of walking away, or they would feel embarassed and awkward to be given personal details about your life that they had no interest in knowing.

    You feel kinda stupid after you spend ten or fifteen minutes telling somebody about something important thats going on in your life just to have them turn to you afterwards and be like, Oh did you say something?

  46. I think when most people ask “what new” or “what up” or “how are you” they dont really care what the answer is. I think those types of generic greetings are more of an automated conditioned response to coming in contact with another human being then an actual inquiry into their well being. If you actually stopped to give them an honest answer they probly would not be listening, if not already in the process of walking away, or they would feel embarassed and awkward to be given personal details about your life that they had no interest in knowing.

    You feel kinda stupid after you spend ten or fifteen minutes telling somebody about something important thats going on in your life just to have them turn to you afterwards and be like, Oh did you say something?

    1. Well, today I got fresh pressed on WordPress which was really cool! Plus I actually made it to my meditation class tonight which hasn’t been happening recently. Thanks for asking! :)

      1. Thank you for the prompt straight up slightly revealing reply. I can now let this go or know what to ask next if I wish to persue it. In either case I was not a blown off. Nice work and post.

    1. Well, today I got fresh pressed on WordPress which was really cool! Plus I actually made it to my meditation class tonight which hasn’t been happening recently. Thanks for asking! :)

      1. Thank you for the prompt straight up slightly revealing reply. I can now let this go or know what to ask next if I wish to persue it. In either case I was not a blown off. Nice work and post.

  47. Haha, I always complain about that and the “what’s up”, even worse. All my French and Brazilian friends agree, we – foreigners – don’t know what to answer to the “what’s up” question. I just answer with a long silence… Good to know that even English speakers have a hard time! (well, your English is so good I assume you”re a native speaker but I don’t even know)
    I was planning on writing about that soon too (I’m writing about cultural shock), but I guess this next post might interest you too http://leslieishungry.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/bonjour/

  48. Haha, I always complain about that and the “what’s up”, even worse. All my French and Brazilian friends agree, we – foreigners – don’t know what to answer to the “what’s up” question. I just answer with a long silence… Good to know that even English speakers have a hard time! (well, your English is so good I assume you”re a native speaker but I don’t even know)
    I was planning on writing about that soon too (I’m writing about cultural shock), but I guess this next post might interest you too http://leslieishungry.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/bonjour/

  49. Hmmpfh. Now I feel bad to either ask or answer that question! It is a pretty bland exchange and I admit I don’t expect to *hear* anything spectacular, though I do actually *care* very much about the person’s response. I at least try to add a little perkiness to my voice even if my reply is, “Same old, same old…” That must give me +1 in points, right? (Kidding.) Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Fun, right? ;-)

  50. Hmmpfh. Now I feel bad to either ask or answer that question! It is a pretty bland exchange and I admit I don’t expect to *hear* anything spectacular, though I do actually *care* very much about the person’s response. I at least try to add a little perkiness to my voice even if my reply is, “Same old, same old…” That must give me +1 in points, right? (Kidding.) Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Fun, right? ;-)

  51. Good one. I think that this article and comments have confirmed that it is definitely better to get in first with the “what’s new?”. That way the other person has to squirm if they wish to sound interesting or impress. I feel “What’s new” doesn’t really matter between friends. Bruce

  52. Good one. I think that this article and comments have confirmed that it is definitely better to get in first with the “what’s new?”. That way the other person has to squirm if they wish to sound interesting or impress. I feel “What’s new” doesn’t really matter between friends. Bruce

  53. I think what the problem is, is that our society has a narrow perception of what is considered interesting. In other words, when someone does ask “What’s new?” they may have something on their mind that they either want to talk about or is interesting tothem, but neglect to share because they feel that society won’t feel the same way. So essentially, we might have something new to share, but we feel a sense of hesitation.

    Great post! What an interesting topic to think about!

    If it’s alright with you, I started a blog of my own not too long ago and I would like to invite you and your readers to please check out my posts, comment, and subscribe! I would really appreciate any feedback as well as your support by signing up! The link is http://www.logicmeetsreason.wordpress.com Thank you so much!

  54. I’m reminded of the song.. “Does Anyone Ever Really Know What Time It Is?” by Chicago… way back in the “olden days”. I currently waste my declining years as a high end security guard and as I greet people entering the store people will often retort, “Hi, how’s it going?”, not expecting a reply from me. In which case I call their bluff and respond, “Doing well, thanks… and yourself?”. That many times opens up a further dialog… or not. Oddly, when a total stranger is asking me “how’s it going?” it would appear rather presumptous… like “why would I want to tell you, Mr. Stranger, anything about what is going on in MY life?”
    But.. it’s all part of being human, I guess.
    Good post.. and interesting site. This is my first time here. So, what’s new with everyone?

    1. Doug, you made me smile because I call checkout clerks’ bluffs all the time. It’s a requirement of their jobs to say, “How are you today?” I pause in loading my groceries on the conveyor belt, look them in the eyes and say, “I’m well. How are YOU today?” and there is genuine interest in my voice. I wait for a response, still looking them in the eyes. Usually, I get a surprised but grateful look. The responses vary, but they’re not the important thing. The connection is.

      To reach out and emotionally connect with a total stranger, let them know that what they do is appreciated – it has become one of my little missions in life. Call me crazy, but it makes me smile thinking about it.

  55. I was just talking about how often people give me generic answers to this question, saying something along the lines of, “Nothing much. You?” I am always tempted to tell them all about what I am up to, but then I always find myself wondering – do they really want to know, or is the equivalent of “How’s it going?” Great post, and good food for thought.

  56. I was just talking about how often people give me generic answers to this question, saying something along the lines of, “Nothing much. You?” I am always tempted to tell them all about what I am up to, but then I always find myself wondering – do they really want to know, or is the equivalent of “How’s it going?” Great post, and good food for thought.

  57. If you ask a generic question, expect a generic answer. If you know someone well, like a good friend whom you keep in regular (phone and person to person!) contact with, you’d ask specific questions related to what you know is happening in their lives recently. At least, I do. I’m generalizing I guess.
    ‘What’s new?’ is usually asked by a colleague who has no idea about you as a person, and is making polite, idle kitchen/hallway chat to seem polite. It’s not the sort of question you pose when you genuinely want to know what is going on in someone’s life.
    That said, I agree with your thought process towards really thinking about your answer and sharing something funny, exciting or interesting about yourself when asked. Maybe you can forge a new friendship through a mutual interest by giving a truthful answer.

  58. Remain inspired! Love it :) One of humankind’s greatest freedom’s is the fact that we always choose how we respond, even if just on a mental level – paraphrase of a quote from “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Frankl. (He actually found that freedom while in concentration camps…Gives some perspective.)

  59. Remain inspired! Love it :) One of humankind’s greatest freedom’s is the fact that we always choose how we respond, even if just on a mental level – paraphrase of a quote from “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Frankl. (He actually found that freedom while in concentration camps…Gives some perspective.)

  60. Aww, that’s all good and fair to say, but being someone like me, even if I’m super engaged in my daily work/projects, I just don’t really like to talk much about what’s happening with them. I’m a bit of a “if you don’t NEED to know, then I won’t say” sort of a person. But I do definitely find a way to pump up some convo about “other” things. Or if I’m stuck on something relating to my daily work/projects, I’d ask without spilling the whole story….
    Anyway, this was a good read. Thanks, and congrats on being FPed.

  61. Aww, that’s all good and fair to say, but being someone like me, even if I’m super engaged in my daily work/projects, I just don’t really like to talk much about what’s happening with them. I’m a bit of a “if you don’t NEED to know, then I won’t say” sort of a person. But I do definitely find a way to pump up some convo about “other” things. Or if I’m stuck on something relating to my daily work/projects, I’d ask without spilling the whole story….
    Anyway, this was a good read. Thanks, and congrats on being FPed.

  62. I think another insight you can take from it is that the question is kind of silly. It shows a little bit of shallowness on the part of the asker. I’m not saying we should respond negatively to the asker, but we should make a concerted effort to ask a different question. For example, ask about a specific project. If you’re not familiar with specific projects, ask the person which projects they are involved in (or if they did anything special with the family last weekend).

    My point is just that specific questions are your true intent, a lot of people are shy or misunderstand your intent, so just make sure you are clear in the ask so you get the answers you are looking for.

  63. I think another insight you can take from it is that the question is kind of silly. It shows a little bit of shallowness on the part of the asker. I’m not saying we should respond negatively to the asker, but we should make a concerted effort to ask a different question. For example, ask about a specific project. If you’re not familiar with specific projects, ask the person which projects they are involved in (or if they did anything special with the family last weekend).

    My point is just that specific questions are your true intent, a lot of people are shy or misunderstand your intent, so just make sure you are clear in the ask so you get the answers you are looking for.

  64. I really din’t get to go through the earlier comments and I am sure someone must’ve mentioned this. We’d meet at least a dozen people a day who say- ‘what’s up?’ , ‘what’s new?’ and ‘how you doing?’ just for the sake of courtesy, not because they are interested in knowing what’s new in our lives! But then again, why would I want to tell every person who asks me what’s new in my life!

  65. I really din’t get to go through the earlier comments and I am sure someone must’ve mentioned this. We’d meet at least a dozen people a day who say- ‘what’s up?’ , ‘what’s new?’ and ‘how you doing?’ just for the sake of courtesy, not because they are interested in knowing what’s new in our lives! But then again, why would I want to tell every person who asks me what’s new in my life!

  66. What an interesting question and from a cultural point of view not one that us british people ask each other very much. I wonder what that says about us?! Though more seriously, if you engage in the ‘new’ it seems much more likely that you are ready to engage in change and take risks.

  67. What an interesting question and from a cultural point of view not one that us british people ask each other very much. I wonder what that says about us?! Though more seriously, if you engage in the ‘new’ it seems much more likely that you are ready to engage in change and take risks.

  68. This is a great blog …thanks for sharing! It’s so true to realize WHO is asking and if they really care what’s new in our lives….I think that is why we answer it by rote too many times as I believe the question has just become a type of auto response in both the asking and answering in our American society.
    I do love your idea to go out and get yourself motivated and involved so you do have more to say, but I do NOT think too many people really WANT to hear us, perhaps our friends, yes?!
    Very thought provoking, thanks for your Freshly Pressed ideas…..

  69. This is a great blog …thanks for sharing! It’s so true to realize WHO is asking and if they really care what’s new in our lives….I think that is why we answer it by rote too many times as I believe the question has just become a type of auto response in both the asking and answering in our American society.
    I do love your idea to go out and get yourself motivated and involved so you do have more to say, but I do NOT think too many people really WANT to hear us, perhaps our friends, yes?!
    Very thought provoking, thanks for your Freshly Pressed ideas…..

  70. I often have the nothing answer for “whats new?,” thank you for inspiring me to do something new often. Your post reminded me of my grandmother’s favorite saying, “If you are bored, you are a boring person.” Growing up, if I ever said, ” I’m bored, there is nothing to do.” She would tell me to be creative and that the there is a whole world of things to do out there. I use the same phrase on my younger cousins and will definitely use it to encourage and develop my children’s sense of imagination too.

  71. I often have the nothing answer for “whats new?,” thank you for inspiring me to do something new often. Your post reminded me of my grandmother’s favorite saying, “If you are bored, you are a boring person.” Growing up, if I ever said, ” I’m bored, there is nothing to do.” She would tell me to be creative and that the there is a whole world of things to do out there. I use the same phrase on my younger cousins and will definitely use it to encourage and develop my children’s sense of imagination too.

  72. A frequent variation on “What’s New?” is the greeting, “Good morning.” A courtesy really. But our office Eeyore challenges me several times a week with, “What’s so good about it?” I decided to trump his dare with a barrage of good things going on in the world and/or our lives. It has become a great way for each of us to begin our work day. I consciously think about my reply to him as I’m walking into the office – counting my blessings, as it were.

    I guess what I’m saying is that we each have the choice to interpret what we’re given. Me, I’m choosing the half-full glass.

    Nice post. I have found that sometimes it’s the little things in life that have a really big impact on me as a person. And from the comments, it looks like you are having a good impact. Thanks.

  73. A frequent variation on “What’s New?” is the greeting, “Good morning.” A courtesy really. But our office Eeyore challenges me several times a week with, “What’s so good about it?” I decided to trump his dare with a barrage of good things going on in the world and/or our lives. It has become a great way for each of us to begin our work day. I consciously think about my reply to him as I’m walking into the office – counting my blessings, as it were.

    I guess what I’m saying is that we each have the choice to interpret what we’re given. Me, I’m choosing the half-full glass.

    Nice post. I have found that sometimes it’s the little things in life that have a really big impact on me as a person. And from the comments, it looks like you are having a good impact. Thanks.

  74. I think next time someone asks me that question, I’m going to respond with “a lot” just to see if they really care to hear. If they do care, I’ll tell them how I had a KDR of 10 last night while playing Call of Duty.

  75. I think next time someone asks me that question, I’m going to respond with “a lot” just to see if they really care to hear. If they do care, I’ll tell them how I had a KDR of 10 last night while playing Call of Duty.

  76. I always have something going on, be it a passion or something related to the career I am building, but I have the impression most people perceive this as not being able to stick to something, or having the head full of ideas that has no concrete utility because what’s important is I find a good permanent place and grow up.

  77. I always have something going on, be it a passion or something related to the career I am building, but I have the impression most people perceive this as not being able to stick to something, or having the head full of ideas that has no concrete utility because what’s important is I find a good permanent place and grow up.

  78. “How are you?” creates a struggle for me too…. I want to be honest with everyone, always. I want to say what I mean. And, I want to ask how others are when I really have time to listen and support them in whatever they’re going through….

  79. “How are you?” creates a struggle for me too…. I want to be honest with everyone, always. I want to say what I mean. And, I want to ask how others are when I really have time to listen and support them in whatever they’re going through….

  80. Reblogged this on cathybrooksusana and commented:
    I always use this opportunity to tell people about my business. It opens discussion and then I can explain how the products have changed my life and can change theirs too. I am always proud to tell people about USANA Health Sciences and the top quality supplements, weight loss products, skin care products and healthy energy drink that can improve anyone’s health.

  81. Reblogged this on cathybrooksusana and commented:
    I always use this opportunity to tell people about my business. It opens discussion and then I can explain how the products have changed my life and can change theirs too. I am always proud to tell people about USANA Health Sciences and the top quality supplements, weight loss products, skin care products and healthy energy drink that can improve anyone’s health.

  82. “Nothing much” as an auto-answer to “what’s new” doesn’t leave me feeling nearly as much anxiety as when someone asks how I’m doing. I don’t know how to answer it because I could lie and say “fine/okay/not bad/eh” every single time. Or, I can be honest and actually tell someone how I’m doing.

    I’ve had to get into the habit of replying with “I’m not sure yet…” it seems more truthful.

  83. The answer, I started my career which I am in LOVE with! I also started to get serious about my blog and starting my online comic. If all goes well on the personal front I would like to commission some art too.

  84. The answer, I started my career which I am in LOVE with! I also started to get serious about my blog and starting my online comic. If all goes well on the personal front I would like to commission some art too.

  85. Sometimes it’s hard to answer that question seriously because people don’t really intend to know your truthful answer to their question. Do I make sense?

  86. Sometimes it’s hard to answer that question seriously because people don’t really intend to know your truthful answer to their question. Do I make sense?

  87. I think the depth of one’s enthusiasm is known whichever way one chooses to answer the question…generally, I tend to give a cute excited adjective like ‘Greatness!’ or ‘I am winning all the way’ even, in my low moments I still find hidden strength in giving such answers.

  88. I think the depth of one’s enthusiasm is known whichever way one chooses to answer the question…generally, I tend to give a cute excited adjective like ‘Greatness!’ or ‘I am winning all the way’ even, in my low moments I still find hidden strength in giving such answers.

  89. I cannot agree more with this, as a 16 year old theres nothing I hate more than the youth simply seeming to forget how to speak properly! Conversation in young people these days consist of ‘bro whhere you at’ and it makes me what to shake them back and forth screaming accepticble language into their faces! You may think conversation is bad for you, imagine being my age again, but in todays society…!

  90. Well, to be completely honest

    Someone asks me what’s new I say nothing much except the same old life.

    Now it may seem bland but this is actually a lot, if you were to put it into a certain perspective which extracts this meaning from it

    “My old boring life always has something new going on in it”

    Oh and btw, if someone ask’s “what’s up” I reply, “the Sky you dumbass”

    P.S._ Sorry for the lame joke

  91. Well, to be completely honest

    Someone asks me what’s new I say nothing much except the same old life.

    Now it may seem bland but this is actually a lot, if you were to put it into a certain perspective which extracts this meaning from it

    “My old boring life always has something new going on in it”

    Oh and btw, if someone ask’s “what’s up” I reply, “the Sky you dumbass”

    P.S._ Sorry for the lame joke

  92. Great post and question.
    I think the question “What’s new?” is not much different from “How do you do?” or “How are you?” When someone ask this they are not actually interested in a real response. It’s just a greeting and they are usually looking for a one or two word response. When someone is really interested in knowing they are more likely to say “Tell me how your are.” or “Tell me what is knew with you” That’s my 2 cents.

    Congrats on the Freshly Pressed.

  93. I’ve always wondered how much questions like these are just throw away questions where a thought out response isn’t expected and 2 people are just going through the motions of a conversation. What a way to change that and turn it into a meaninful one by putting thought into it and answering with something you’re doing passionately.

  94. I’ve always wondered how much questions like these are just throw away questions where a thought out response isn’t expected and 2 people are just going through the motions of a conversation. What a way to change that and turn it into a meaninful one by putting thought into it and answering with something you’re doing passionately.

  95. Great post! After reading your title, I actually responded to myself with “same old”. Boy does that answer suck! It’s funny how short we sell ourselves without even noticing. I’m going to work on my answer to that question so that the next time someone asks me, I have a real answer that actually highlights what I’m doing with my life!

  96. True, it’s not a very interesting answer but I find myself often using it because I don’t think people will be interested in, or understand what I’m working on or what’s new right now. I work with on-demand software and databases so a lot of the work related stuff I do isn’t all that exciting to most people!

    1. Well, I’m sure there is definitely a niche market out there of people who are interested in your field and perhaps you should blog about the topic.

  97. True, it’s not a very interesting answer but I find myself often using it because I don’t think people will be interested in, or understand what I’m working on or what’s new right now. I work with on-demand software and databases so a lot of the work related stuff I do isn’t all that exciting to most people!

    1. Well, I’m sure there is definitely a niche market out there of people who are interested in your field and perhaps you should blog about the topic.

  98. I rarely hear the words, “what’s new?”, but then again I don’t live in North America. Instead it’s more been a case of: how are you? how’s things? But I get the gist of the meaning behind the question, but I still have the same issue as you. Plenty of times the question is meant as a conversation opener – well done – but plenty of times the respondent can prematurely kill the conversation. However, the initiater also has responsibility to use a follow-up question, which really isn’t too difficult. Off the tops of our heads, we’re so caught up in the everyday that we forget that we are part of a bigger more magnificent picture. It’s worth mentioning the everyday stuff too. For diary writers, it’s a killer question, they’ll have plenty to talk about. “What’s new” is a great question to keep track of yourself, if you can’t answer it then you’d better check-in with yourself.

    I’m from Britain, a country renowned for small talk and glorifying the art of conversation: lift talk, queue talk, meal times talk, bus stop talk etc. A conversation can be had anywhere and it’s priceless. There is immense satisfaction in being able to spin an intriguing or interesting yarn out of the everyday stuff, not just what is new. Also, the skill of striking up a conversation with a complete stranger within a few seconds is a winner in itself.

    So, I think I’ve confused myself: are we talking about the art of conversation, or the art of answering “what’s new?”.

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