There are several situations in which you’ll need to respond to how are you doing. This is a common query and it’s often used in business environments as well as more relaxing settings.
In any situation, you can respond to the question “How are you doing?” with “Thank you, I’m fine. And you?”. You should only share negative details if you know the person well or if it is a doctor’s visit, for example.
When you’re asked how are you doing, there are several responses that are standard. These tend to keep the conversation at a fairly superficial level.
These responses are helpful in everyday conversations, such as when you’re talking to strangers who have a business agenda.  These responses just help to let the other person know that you’re doing fairly well.
They’re appropriate in situations where you’re not really expected to go into detail on how you’re doing. So, if someone asks you how are you doing, you could simply say:
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“I’m doing well, thank you.”
“I’m having a good day. Thanks for asking.”
Ask About the Other Person’s Health
If someone asks you how you’re doing, it’s good manners to ask about their well-being.
While you can simply reply to their question without asking about them, doing so shows a lack of concern for them.
It can give the wrong impression of you. Even if you’re in a hurry, it’s usually a good idea to also ask about their health and general well-being.
For example, you could reply to their query with:
“I’m fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine thanks. How are you doing?”
“I’m well, thanks for asking. How are you?”
Ask About Those Who Are Close to Them
When someone asks how you’re doing, it’s very possible that you might know several people who are close to them. In this case, it’s usually good manners to ask about the well-being of those people as well.
For example, if the person has children, you could briefly ask about their children. So, you could say:
“I’m doing well thanks. How are you and how are your children doing?”
“I’m fine. Thanks for asking. How is your family?”
“I’m good. How is everyone at home?”
“I am fine, thank you very much. How is the week going so far?“
Although it’s good manners to ask after a person’s family, it’s not necessary. This is especially true if either of you happens to be in a hurry at that time.
For example, if you’re simply passing by each other on your way to work and you only have a minute to spare, you wouldn’t need to ask about their family or other loved ones at that time.
Those additional questions would be reserved for times when you have a little more leeway in terms of your schedule and could have a 10-minute conversation. Similarly, if you meet a business acquaintance and they ask how you’re doing, it’s polite to ask about people who you both know if time allows.
For example, you could ask about the other people in their department. You could also ask how someone who you would both regularly meet with about a particular project is doing.
So, you could say:
“I’m fine, thanks. How is everyone in your department?”
“I’m doing well, thank you. How is the rest of the sales team doing?”
“I’m good. How is everyone at the office?”
“I’m doing well, thanks. I haven’t seen Mrs. Peale in a while. How is she doing?”
Health and Similar Contexts
There are several situations in which when someone asks you how you’re doing, they’re doing so from a professional standpoint. For example, if you’re speaking to your financial advisor about a problem and they ask you how you’re doing, they usually want a response that’s framed in terms of both your overall wellness and your finances.
So, they would want information that can help them to plan for your financial wellness. So, you need to provide details on the fiscal problems at hand, add any additional information that could help them, and even provide documents that could assist with strategies.
Similarly, if you visit your doctor and they ask you how you’re doing, they don’t expect a generic answer. They’re asking questions to learn more about your health.  They expect details on your health.
So, if you’ve been having pain in your elbow, they need to hear about it. They expect specifics that will allow them to help you to reach a state of wellness.
There are many other professional situations in which a person will ask how you’re doing. What they expect are specifics that are related to the service that they provide to you.
So, even if you’re in a restaurant and your waiter stops by briefly and asks how you’re doing and whether everything is okay, they want you to reply in terms of the experience that you’re having at the restaurant.
If you’re upset because the temperature in the room is not ideal for you, they expect you to tell them so they can make adjustments that will help you to have a more enjoyable experience.
Replying to a Friend
If you are responding to someone who you trust, your response will generally be different than that given to someone who you know on a more superficial level. 
For example, you wouldn’t generally go into details about an illness if a stranger asks how you’re doing. However, if someone who you’re fairly close to asks you the same question you might say:
“I’m not doing too badly. It’s just that I went on a hike yesterday and my feet hurt.”
“I’m doing well overall. However, I think I’m going to have to visit the doctor later. I’ve been having pain in my knees for a week now.”
“I’m doing well generally. It’s just that my sinuses are acting up today. How are you?”
“Oh, my migraine is acting up today.”
You would feel comfortable going into a little more detail especially if you’re sure that the person would be willing to listen and would actually be interested in really hearing how you’re feeling.
It’s important to engage each person and be certain that you’re not providing them with too much information.
However, if someone is really concerned about you, you can respond to them with a little more depth if they’re willing to listen.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.