Often, when you haven’t seen someone in awhile they will ask you something like “What’s new?” or “How’s it going?” I usually have some difficulty thinking about how to answer these questions. What kind of thing does this person want to hear about? Do they actually want to know how I’m doing? Sometimes, my mind goes blank. Other times, I’m pretty sure not much has changed since I last talked with the person. Sometimes, SO much time has passed that I can’t pick from all the options! (Like when I saw my old boss from the Y after maybe 4 years. I was carrying Sean but I was still like, um….. oh! Yeah, I had a kid! p.s. Here he is!)
Ah, the cuteness. (Thanks to my mom for the taking this pic!)
Well, I have done extensive research to solve the conundrum! I have scoured the inter-webs for minutes and seconds and here is what I have discovered!!
What’s the deal with “What’s new?”:
1. Sometimes, questions like “What’s up?” and “How are you?” are just ritual greetings or at most, a polite way of showing interest while not really being too interested in the ‘real’ most in depth answer. Don’t over think it. An answer of “not much” or “fine” is fine. =)
2. These types of questions are often used as basic, albeit overused, conversation starters– probably because they work. I think the asker is hoping something you say will kickstart an actual conversation. What would you like to talk about? Ball’s in your court. You have the power!!!! You could steer the conversation however you’d like. Cool, huh? Now if only you knew what you were interested in talking about…
3. If you know you’re going to be asked in certain situations, think about what you want to say ahead of time (especially for ‘what’s new’ and variations). This removes some of the pressure in the moment- that is, if you can remember what you came up with when you get there!
4. You could use it as a self-marketing opportunity. While I can see how it can be useful (and better than “not much”) in business or networking situations, overall I don’t love this approach. I feel like it’s too likely to come off badly. Either like you’re trying too hard or maybe like you’re too full of yourself. I feel like one of the inherent pressures of the questions is that I can tend to feel like I have to have a brilliant or exciting answer every time and I don’t. So for the casual situations that I’m usually in, I think I’ll skip this one.
5. Think about your personal life and what’s been going on lately. (Um, duh?) But seriously, often many ideas may come to mind but end up getting nixed for one reason or another. Next time, try picking the least worrisome one and use it to give a brief answer and just see how it goes from there. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to have an amazing answer. Usually, the person just wants to know a little about you and isn’t likely to be as critical as you might be toward yourself– at least I’m pretty sure that’s the case with me!
6. Evaluate your life. If you’re always giving a hum-drum answer because it’s pretty much true, is that how you want your life to be? Consider trying something you have always wanted to do. Even if you haven’t gotten started yet, this could be something you could mention when asked what’s new! I just realized that one of the most exciting new things in my life is this blog! Twice now, I have only realized after a conversation that it might have been something worth mentioning. Doh!
How do you think about answering the “What’s new?” questions? What are you hoping to hear about when you ask others? What’s new with you? =D