How Old Do I Look?
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- How-do-you-do – definition of how-do-you-do by The Free
- 7Better Ways to Answer What Do You Do - The Muse
The reason for the varied responses is that the question you ask is not only about the English language, but it also touches on etiquette, which is more idiomatic.
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How-do-you-do – definition of how-do-you-do by The Free
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7Better Ways to Answer What Do You Do - The Muse
Think about your answer in this light: You are educating the other person on the subject of you. So instead of just saying your title, explain something he or she might not know about your work or industry. Talk about the void in the market that you are filling. Talk about the latest thing happening in your industry. Talk about the most interesting thing you’ve learned lately.
However -- and this is important to the etiquette side of things and not so much the language side -- "how do you do?" is actually not a question! It is a greeting, similar to "good morning" and, hence, an appropriate reply is also "good morning to you!"
It’s not all about you, even when it is. Relay the details about you and your work that are relevant to the person you’re talking to. The client whose story I told at the party was also finishing up successful rehab after a car accident, and as I told it, I saw the cardiac rehab therapist’s face light up with recognition. Think about what experiences you have that will resonate with the people you’re talking to or be able to help them out in some way.
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I believe this rule only applies to U English nowadays. It was probably more widespread in the past. As far as I know, it is still de rigueur in certain circles that is, when someone asks how do you do , you say it back but it will now rarely be asked any more, and so the occasion for saying it back won't arise either. Perhaps this shibboleth does not extend to America I wonder how U and non-U language work there, as I am sure they must exist in some form in nearly every culture.
Another modern UK version is "alright?", "alright". The reply can be a statement or the same ritual question repeated back, which is rather neat.