Throughout the course of EVERY day, people you know will ask you, ”How have you been?” and “What’s new?” Your answers to these “small-talk” questions will have a profound impact on the way people respond to you.

While there is value in being humble and being vulnerable, that does not mean that you should completely devalue yourself.

I recently attended an engagement party for a friend and his fiancé. Midway through the night, I ran into another acquaintance who I had not seen for about a year and a half. Naturally, I asked him how he was doing and what was new.

His response?

“Well, I’m one year older and even fatter.” He said this with a smile, but it didn’t make his comment any more attractive.

While it’s endearing to be self-deprecating, it’s a huge turnoff when you belittle yourself. I wonder what his wife was thinking as he introduced himself to me, especially since they had their first child since the last time I saw them.

Why didn’t he say something like, “I’ve been doing great. We just had our first child last year. Our lives are completely different these days, but we have never been happier.”

How much easier would that introduction have made it for me to follow-up with another question?

Instead, I was forced to play along with his “fatter/older” comment.

If he had just met me for the first time, there is no way he would have introduced himself to me as “one year older and even fatter.” Why should he downgrade himself (and unintentionally embarrass his wife as well) just because we know each other?

Most people aren’t this bad at introducing themselves, but it’s amazing how depressing most responses are to “What’s new?” or “How have you been?”

Have you ever responded to these questions by saying something like, “well, I’m surviving” or “can’t complain” or “same old” or “plugging along.”

If so, stop doing that immediately!

How are people supposed to respond when you utter a boring/depressing comment like that… or something even worse?

Do you want people to be excited when they see you? Then, give them a reason to be excited to see you.

Next time someone you know asks you “What’s new?” or “How have you been?,” be positive. Mention something that you are excited about, such as a new work project, an upcoming or recent trip/event, or some other positive development from your personal or professional life.


Pete Leibman is the Founder of Dream Job Academy and the Author of the new book titled “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You” (AMACOM, 2012). His career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN, and he is a popular Keynote Speaker at career events for college students and at conferences for people who work with college students.