The Rules of Introduction
It is worth noting here that ‘How are you?’ is only treated as a’ real’ question among very close friends or family. Everywhere else the automatic ritual response is ‘Fine thanks’ ‘Not bad thanks’ ‘oh, mustn’t grumble’ or some other equivalent, whatever your physical or mental state. If you are terminally ill, it is acceptable to say ‘No bad, considering’.
From: Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, by Kate Fox
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