Greeting People - Whether You
Like Them, Love Them, or
Have Issues with Them

Friends Meeting in the Street

Whether in public or at a social occasion, your manner of greeting people carries many messages.  And anyone listening or watching will immediately read them.

Your greeting, as an initial approach to engaging with someone, not only speaks of your relationship with that person, but can reveal your level of confidence or comfort with the situation.

What sort of impression do you want to give?  How enthusiastic are you about seeing someone?  Are you comfortable in various social situations?  These questions and others are answered each time you greet someone.

Hello Dear Person

Greeting people you like or love comes most naturally.  You already have a connection with that person, so approaching them is effortless.  The manner in which you greet them automatically tells those in your vicinity that you are happy to see them.

The only downside with greeting someone you are close with would be a case of overexuberance.  You may create an “all eyes on you” situation, possibly leaving a questionable impression on those around you.  Or you could simply be disruptive to the people in conversation or conducting business who are nearby.

There is nothing wrong with joyfully greeting someone you are happy to see.  Just make sure you read the room to gauge how joyfully you should greet them.

Greeting People You Don’t Like

Particularly in social situations, the importance of greetings rings loud and clear.  These common courtesies always create an impression, especially if absent.  Without eye contact, a welcome or hello may be sensed as disingenuous.  

Well and good to know!  But seriously, what if you feel disdain for someone you have to see or may happen to come across?  What’s to lose with simply ignoring the greeting?  

  • Your personal power will be compromised.
  • You are at risk of portraying yourself as someone adding awkwardness to the situation.
  • Others will be uncomfortable in your silence, especially if they don’t know the backstory.

A neutral, “Hello, John” with direct eye contact will suffice in these situations.  And if a person who does not like you greets you first in such a manner, absent your name, it’s fitting to greet neutrally, but to include the person’s name. You have claimed the high ground.  Moving away from small talk engagement won’t be hard.

Of significant importance, refrain from using a sarcastic tone or a “Hello Newman” attitude. You will lose credibility with others and yourself should you engage these displays.

Greeting Guidelines

Regardless of relationship, there are standard guidelines for greeting people that you can default to.  Especially if you find yourself in a situation that leaves you unsure of what to do.

  • If handshakes are on hold for you, your vocal and focused facial greeting are important, even if masks are worn. Nods are nice!  And eye contact is imperative.
  • Standing and facing the person or persons you are greeting is a show of respect.
  • Stating someone’s name when saying hello or introducing them to another person will add to the conversational ease. 

As philosopher Adam Smith, pointed out years ago, “We not only desire to be loved, but to be lovely, or that which is the the natural and proper object of love." These longings are central to friendship and friendly living.  Greetings are foundational to building and maintaining good relationships.  Cheerful and positive greetings are the best, and most of the time you will receive in-kind.

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