do people have to say hi in the hallways at work?

Share on Facebook6Tweet about this on Twitter14Share on LinkedIn7Share on Google+0Share on TumblrDigg thisShare on StumbleUpon0Print this page

A reader writes:

For several months, I’ve been supervising an awesome temp who we’re finally able to hire to our project (yay!). Though I have a manager title, our project is so small that this is my first time supervising someone.

Out of the blue today, a coworker (not someone above me in the office hierarchy) pulled me aside to give me some feedback on the temp since she heard we were planning to make the hire. According to her, I need to tell the temp to say hello to people when she walks by them in the hallways. Um… This person doesn’t work with my temp, but works in a cube nearby and felt offended that the temp kept her head down frequently and wasn’t chatty in the kitchen when they both were there. She stressed that it was really important for professionalism to say hello to people, and that it was my job as the future supervisor to give her the heads-up.

How would one even casually bring that up? It would be clear I was passing along someone else’s feedback since I have a very friendly relationship with the temp (she’s an introvert and a bit shy, but once she gets to know you she’s quite lovely). I promised once we made the hire I would introduce her around again to make her feel more comfortable with everyone, but is there something else I should do or say? It’s more important to me to make my employee comfortable than this coworker, but I want to make sure this doesn’t come up again down the line. Also — I work with a lot of introverted academic types, many don’t say hi in the hallways, which makes this feedback even more peculiar.

I’d talk to your coworker, not to your temp.

There are many, many offices where people don’t say hi every time they pass in the hall and where they’re not obligated to be chatty in the kitchen. Some people are shy, some people have their minds full of the project they were just working on, and some people … well, who knows? Who cares?

I wouldn’t tell someone, “You need to say hi to people in the halls.” Can you imagine being on the receiving end of that feedback? You’d be entirely weirded out that someone in your office thought about this enough and cared about this enough to talk to your manager about it … and that your manager thought it was an issue worth relaying to you.

That said, it’s worth considering whether there’s some larger point to your coworker’s feedback. Aside from the hallways and the kitchen, does the temp come across as chilly or unfriendly in actual work situations like meetings or work-related conversations? If so, you could definitely work with her on that — but it should come from you, couched in terms of “here’s something I’ve noticed and it could impact you this way,” not be relayed as “Jane told me you’re not very friendly.”

But if you do that, it should be based on your real belief that it’s an issue, not on feeling that you have to act in some way on your coworker’s complaint. Your coworker is welcome to share her observations with you, and you should give them real consideration– but you, as the manager, need to make the final judgment on whether you agree that there’s an issue worth raising.

Meanwhile, I’d go back to the coworker, tell her that you thought about the feedback, and that the temp is simply shy and — like many others in your office — just not a hi-in-the-halls type person. Explain she does good work, and you hope she’ll get to know people more over time, but that you think it’s okay that she’s not saying hello in the hallways. If your coworker pushes back on this, smile and say, “Thanks. I’ve heard the feedback and I appreciate it.” But it’s not her place to continue to push.

{ 295 comments… read them below }

  1. Catherine

    As an introvert who doesn’t say hello in the hallways and finds it painful to engage in small talk…I’m appalled! Just kidding. :) Actually just annoyed. Is saying hi in the hallways and talking in the kitchen really that important in the grand scheme of things? And why is it so important to that one person?

    Excellent advice, Alison. I agree that if the temp is coming across as completely reticent in other areas that is something to consider, but just not saying hi to someone when you pass by the cube? Does this person have some insecurity issues? (I’m going to calm down now, I promise.)

    1. Jamie

      I’m not annoyed, I’m appalled – just as I was back when this crap was said to me.

      I say hello if I see someone for the first time in the morning if we make eye contact or whatever – it’s always the people who greet you like a hero returning from the battlefield even though they just saw you 20 minutes ago that demand this crap.

      There is a difference between being rude and being quiet. Sometimes rude is quiet – but that’s pretty unmistakable, except for those people where anything less than a hug or a high five is subdued.

      Arrrggghhhh – your co-worker needs more to worry about at work if this is all she’s got. And congrats to you and your new hire.

      On the bright side, the temp is reporting to the OP and not the queen of salutations.

      1. cf

        And if I am thinking about something or not wearing my glasses, I might not even see someone. It’s not that I am trying to be rude – I just don’t necessarily notice other people in the hall.

      2. Ivy

        LMAO at “Queen of Salutations”! She reminds me of the bathroom monitors of the world. Some people just won’t let others be. I can’t stand people that feel the need to “notify the manager” for every small grievance they have.

      3. Kelly O

        Y’all know the horror story I live around here – we get off on these kicks where you have to say hello or greet everyone you pass by with a “good morning” and then naturally you have to say goodbye to everyone in the evenings.

        Half the time in the morning I’m sorting out my “do first thing” list, or thinking about something daycare. I’m not worried about making sure I say hello to everyone in Accounts Payable when I walk past.

        And in the evenings? I know they think I’m awful. I just clock out and go home. If I see you, I’ll speak (usually) but most of the time I am just on a mission to get to daycare.

        1. Jamie

          Getting out is harder, imo – because a lot of people will stop you as you’re saying goodnight for “one quick question” and it’s never quick and it’s never just one.

          My rule of thumb is if someone has their coat on, purse on shoulder (or whatever) it’s not the time for a conversation.

          1. A Heather

            Being a person who has to catch a bus that only comes once every half hour is a great way to get out of that one. But then of course, you’re taking the bus.

        2. Natalie

          That reminds of something I had apparently put out of my mind. I once saw a memo draft from my old boss that was not intended for me to see. It consisted entirely of her nitpicking the three newer employees about IMO, minor crap. Think emptying out the dishwasher or saying goodbye as they left. Considering we were an office of 7, I’m not sure why she felt a memo was necessary. One of the employees had been here for a few weeks – no wonder she started looking for a job shortly thereafter.

      4. Cassie

        I love your “returning from the battlefield” description! Back in the ballet studio, the students were *always* like this, even if it was just coming back from lunch break. It drove me nuts because everyone’s in the studio every single day but it was always this big production. They were teenagers and middle-school aged, so I shouldn’t have expected anything different :)

      1. Catherine

        Exactly. To me, “appalled” implies shock, which would mean I’d be shocked that an extrovert would try to “fix” an introvert. I’m not shocked. Happens to me all the time. I am more curmudgeonly than average though.

  2. jumbo jibbles

    Thank you, Alison, for the usual daily dose of sanity. When I was a new supervisor, I came to your site so many times to find answers, and you always came through. /end shameless flattery

      1. Josh S

        “You are very welcome!”

        Translation: “I always accept shameless flattery. And mango sticky rice too, if you’re in the area.”

  3. A Bug!

    I was on the receiving end of “you’re not friendly enough” in my first job, when I was still trying to get an understanding of how to behave in a work environment. I got this from a person who had never said “hi” to me, so I was kind of taken unprepared. As it turns out, every time she walked past my desk, she was expecting me to say “hi” first, and it became a weird thing building up with her without my ever knowing.

    Given my own experience, I can’t help but wonder what exactly this coworker is doing to initiate interactions with the temp, or if she’s just kind of keeping mum while wondering to herself why the heck the temp is being so rude. The coworker might find that the temp is very friendly, but feels that if she initiates interactions it’s an imposition on the time of the full employees.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      She wanted you to say hi every time she walked past your desk? That’s a whole different level of ridiculous — you’re presumably absorbed in your work. I’d actually be more likely to be vaguely concerned if someone said hi every time I passed their desk/office — I’d be wondering why they weren’t focused on their work.

      1. Jamie

        I had one of those. Had to pass his office on the way to the ladies room and expected a greeting with every pass. Which meant saying hello on the way to the ladies room and upon returning.

        He had spoken to the managers of those of us who passed right by “like I don’t even exist” (and that’s an actual quote) which he found disrespectful. Also his word.

        I personally found it more disrespectful that someone was trying to legislate a social interaction so closely tied with using the bathroom.

        1. AnotherAlison

          But then some people who sit in high traffic areas would find it very annoying to say hi to people 100x per day. I always thought it was more polite to pretend the poor folks with cubes by the bathroom had some privacy and we weren’t all staring at them when we walked by.

          1. A Bug!

            This was the case in my situation, too. Thinking back, I am pretty confident that it was less “you’re coming across as unfriendly to everybody” and more “I have some hangups and since I’m unwilling to address them I’m making you responsible for accommodating them.”

            With the guy in the office who wanted people to say hi to him on their way to and from the ladies room, I am curious to know if there was a pattern to the people whose lack of hellos he took issue to.

        2. Vicki

          They never… say hello to me. And, and I told Don too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much

    2. Hari

      You know I got the same feeling! I was thinking ‘Hmm is this person just not engaging the other person and expecting to be engaged just because of close proximity???’ It would only be rude if she was deliberately avoiding (ex. running out of the kitchen upon the co-worker’s entrance) or straight up not responding to the co-workers attempts at small talk.

      1. Kelly O

        Wait a second – running out of the kitchen when Certain People come in is an option? (Please, lord, tell me its an option. I have gotten stuck in some really awkward conversations because I am not sure how to say “you are really freaking me out” without sounding rude.)

        1. Hari

          Hahaha, always an option. However I would choose the ‘nod, smile and slowly move in the direction of the exit’ strategy. You don’t want to alarm the crazies with the sudden movement.

    3. Anon2

      Also, I feel that if anyone has a burden to say Hello first, it is the established employee’s responsibility. You welcome the newcomers, you don’t expect your newcomers to act like door-to-door salespeople and introduce themselves around.

  4. Mike

    I know we are all busy, but we are people too. Maybe it’s because I’m transitioning to a corporate-type career from the non-profit arts edcuation scene, but I feel like we are so bogged with email, faceless corporate structure, social media, and jargon/buzzword language at work that it would do us all good to smile and say hi to each other when we see each other. Of course there are exceptions: I don’t know if you just got bad news or if you are tired or whatever. Generally I see that 9 times out of 10 we might as well be ghosts in the hallway.

        1. A Bug!

          Plus I can totally picture a subsequent talking-to along the lines of “I can tell you’re only saying hi to me because you think you have to! You don’t have to, you know! I just thought it would be nice if you wanted to!”

          I guess, as an introvert, I just don’t like stuff like this. I think there’s quite a lot of room between “doesn’t initiate small talk at work” and “standoffish”, and it seems that some extroverts have a hard time recognizing that. They don’t just want you to do something; they want you to act like you have a different personality when the personality you have is just fine for the circumstances.

  5. A Heather

    I used to be someone who took it personally or got a negative impression of people if we were walking right past each other and they didn’t even give a head nod. I have learned that 99% of the time it isn’t a personal affront and that really my taking it personally was my problem and not theirs.

    With that said, it doesn’t hurt to at least nod in someone’s general direction if you and they are the only two people passing each other in the halls. It can just be awkward when people see you and then avoid saying hi. Should we care about other people’s perception of us in the workplace? Well…isn’t that to an extent important? It doesn’t mean you have to be a blazing extrovert but just being a little bit conscious of how you come across.

    I agree with Alison that you should couch it in terms of what you’ve noticed and not relay that this came from a secondary source. If this is a sharp employee she’ll consider why she’s receiving that feedback. No it isn’t a major thing and she isn’t in trouble it’s just a little FYI. She may have no idea how to act in the workplace and not realize she’s coming across this way. Just my two cents.

    1. fposte

      You’re forgetting that some people’s perception in the workplace is “God, I’ve seen her three times this morning and she *won’t let me just pass*!” Perceptions go both ways.

      1. A Heather

        That I can understand. I think you have to observe people’s personalities and the way they generally interact and if they do seem like an introvert be respectful of that by not constantly making social demands on them.

        Still, if it’s all the time every time that they look away when they see someone coming up to them I’m sorry but it can come off as rude. If people who do like to get a head nod can come halfway and not be totally obnoxious and demanding about it, can’t introverts try to understand why it could possibly appear rude not to say hi once?

        I have learned over time that 99% of the time it isn’t personal at all and so I apply that to life lessons. That was part of learning that perception goes both ways and the world is not in fact, out to hurt my feelings all the time.

        1. A Heather

          This said I’m by no means your raging extrovert. I can be quite shy at times. I think because I’ve had so many jobs where being pleasant has been a requirement though that I’ve just trained it into myself at work.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          A Heather, I think it’s more about not always even registering the other person. As some others have described here, sometimes I’m completely in my own head, thinking through a work problem — actually doing work in my head while I’m working down the hall, really — and I genuinely am zoned out. So it’s not like “oh, it would be exhausting to greet this person so I won’t.” It’s sometimes more about not even registering it because you’re deep in thought.

          1. A Heather

            I get that, I do. But then if it were brought to your attention that people’s general perception of you was that, would you try to be slightly more conscious of it? Just as extroverts have to be conscious of when they’re being paranoid and too sensitive, shouldn’t introverts have a middle ground of self-awareness in the workplace as well?

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              If the culture of the workplace demands it, then yes, I’d want to be aware of it.

              But really, I’d like to be able to keep thinking about the project I was working on when I get up to walk to the bathroom and not have to totally lose my focus. And I’d like people to not be offended by that.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Kind of. I tend to get deeply focused on work and really don’t like being pulled out of it. Weird, perhaps. On the other hand, I’m hugely productive and get a lot done (witness all these blog posts), and I think that’s part of why, so it’s kind of in an employer’s interests to let me.

                2. BW

                  I’m like AAM in this respect. If I am thinking deeply about something, it would throw me off track. Generally, when I am doing this on my way to the bathroom or the kitchen I am problem solving something. Not only do I dislike being pulled out of it, I may lose the thought entirely before I have a chance to get back to my desk and act on it.

            2. A Heather

              I just feel the need to stick up for slightly extroverted people here because I feel like we’re being told it’s more noble or a sign of a more dedicated harder working individual if they’re introverted at work whereas I think communications skills and adaptability can be just as important as being focused on work.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Yeah, both sides get that kind of judgment from the other though. Introverts get told that there’s something wrong with not wanting to engage in team-building activities and team dinners, and that they might not get ahead as quickly if they don’t enthusiastically participate. (And this is probably much more common than the reverse; we just have a high proportion of introverts who comment here, for some reason.)

                1. Ariancita

                  Again, I think this is a problem of selection rather than being generally true. I’m an extrovert and I HATE team building exercises, company dinners, team happy hours, etc. Almost everyone I know, intro and extro, hate those. But those who love them are extroverts, for the most part. But that doesn’t mean most extroverts love them.

                2. A Bug!

                  A lot of people use themselves as their baseline for “normal”, and the very nature of extroverts means their “normal” will get more playtime, so to speak. In my experience a space like this, where introverts rule the roost, is the exception and not the rule.

                  I’d also bet that organizers of team-building and dinners and what have you tend to self-select to the more, uh, exuberant extroverts who can’t really understand that a person might find such events draining rather than energizing.

                3. Ariancita

                  A Bug–since I can’t reply directly to you: yes, that’s exactly my point. Those team building exercise enthusiasts self select for a very strong and loud minority of extroverts. But I can say from my anecdotal experience (which is narrow, but also 20 years in a wide variety of contexts), these enthusiasts probably don’t represent the majority of extroverts. They’re outliers. So not sure it’s fair to equate those doods with a generalized extrovert population.

              2. Jamie

                It’s not more noble and a workplace should be able to take advantage of the gifts of both types of people – because all of one or the other would be far less effective than having a mix of people with different strengths.

                I think it’s just for us most of the external messages we’ve received our whole lives about this gently (or not so gently) point out that we’d be better off if we strove to be more outgoing. In other words, we’re not bad but we’d be better if we were more like someone else and less like ourselves.

                And please don’t mistake introversion with a lack of communication skills or adaptability – like extroverts some of us have one or both or neither.

                1. A Heather

                  I completely don’t mistake introversion with a lack communication skills or adaptability. I was saying it’s nice when both extroverts and introverts strive to have those things.

                  Yeah no, this has been very educational for me. Although I am an introvert in many, many ways I guess with the whole saying hi in the halls thing I’ve always been an extrovert. Who knew?

              3. Ariancita

                I agree. There does seem to be a small underlying sense in these comments that extroverts are chatty cathys who spend all their time gossiping and chatting and distracting others, and that’s just a problem of selection. Because generally, the people who spend a lot of work time doing that are generally extroverts. But most extroverts don’t do that (I would reckon).

    2. EAC

      I’m like you. I’ve had coworkers who would appear to go out of their way to avoid making eye contact, never mind speak, when I’d encounter them in a hallway. I’d wonder if it was meant to be a personal and/or professional snub. The worst were those who would come upon two people and would greet one person but not the other.

      I think that it doesn’t take much to give a nod (just acknowledge that you see other person) when you run into them in a break room, hallway or elevator.

  6. Cruella DaBoss

    Is there a reason that the coworker isn’t saying hello instead? You know, a “Hello, I’ve seen you around and thought I’d introduce myself (hand out for hand shake). I’m Cruella DaBoss and I manage the chocolate teapot distribution.”

    Some people just make everything so difficult.

    1. Kelly L.

      Some people get hung up on the subordinate saying hi first. Which is funny, because other people get hung up on the superior saying it first. So everybody goes around violating each other’s secret hidden rules and silently taking umbrage at each other, when really, what does it matter who says hi first, or if they just nod, or even just pass by each other?

      1. A Heather

        People actually think about power dynamics before saying “hi”?! Wow. I’m more along the lines of :
        “I’m a human, you’re a human. Hi.”

        1. BW

          There was a high-level manager at my previous job who was like this. I was told by my immediate supervisor that she “really likes people who say hello to her in the hall”. She wouldn’t do it herself though, and she was rigid about hierarchy. She would never communicate with the folks in her department directly. Instead, she would go into some middle managers office and complain. It may not have even been the direct supervisor of the person she wanted to do something for her. It was maddening! Communication in that workplace was a total cluster %@#^. I don’t know how many times my direct supervisor explained to both me and HR what D would do/say and what that meant and then what she in turn would tell me and what it actually meant, and I would just look at her like she was nuts. You expect me to translate this ridiculous code to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing and why your asking me to do it? Why can’t people just be direct?

          There were many reasons that conversation, which was had between my supervisor, myself and HR, totally and flabbergasted me, but the suggestion that I should say hello to a woman in the hall to make her like me more even though she wouldn’t communicate with me, totally creeped me out!

      2. Jamie

        Secret hidden rules – yes!

        The say hello on the way to the bathroom guy from my comment above also had a problem if you just said hi without using someone’s name.

        Apparently, he was trying to teach me this when he kept saying “Hello Jamie and I didn’t pick up on the weird intonation of my name – so he finally had to tell me. I’m not the only one – this was actually brought up in a meeting as so many of us missed this particular point of etiquette.

        And no, I do not work for diplomats or at any type of embassy.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Wow. I would have started using full names, like “Hello, Bob Smith!” really enthusiastically every time I passed him. If I could have found out a middle initial, I would have included that too.

          1. Catherine

            Like the overly enthusiastic boss played by Rob Lowe on Parks & Rec? “Ann Perkins!” with finger guns every time he sees her. I would start doing that to people, but the overly enthusiastic ones might really like it and expect it every time, and I can’t give them that satisfaction.

            1. Jamie

              I’ve done it – they do like it – and if I can be snarky and still benefit politically that’s a win-win in my book.

              I am never so bright and sunny as when there is scathing sarcasm behind it. :)

              1. Patti

                I knew there were more of us out there.

                I keep picturing an Office Policy Manual with a chapter on “Required Greetings and Other Pleasantries”.

            2. twentymilehike

              This reminds me of a surfing instructor I had in jr college one time … I alway called him by his first AND last name and didn’t know why, like I had no control over my mouth! The two names just flowed together like one. My friend asked me, “why are you doing that?!” And I had no answer. Like the names just fell out of my mouth that way …

                1. Rana

                  I’m like that with the name of the guy who was my chair when I was a grad student. After graduation I managed to get my brain to the point where I could refer all of my former professors by their first names… except for that one person. And when I grit my teeth and drop the last name, he’s still always “Full First Name” not “Nickname” like he is for the other people in that faculty.

            1. AJ in Memphis

              +2 – I’m the manager of a small research department that is always knee deep trying to do/create the work that other staff members dream up or want us to do. It takes an introvert (most of the time) to do this job and it requires a high level of concentration and quiet. There’s not a lot of time for social hour in our world. Last year I hired 2 people to help out with workload and the people in my office started to complain about my employees being too quiet or always being stuck in their “hole”? I also used to get frequent questions on the whereabouts of my employees or why they weren’t more social. My answer was always: “they’re doing what I hired them to do — work”. That always shut them up. LOL
              If people were more concerned about their work, this wouldn’t concern them a bit.

          2. Anna

            Why stop at the middle initial? Why not find out their whole middle name? I mean, if you’re prefacing it with a “hi” you’re not their mother and angry at them, right? ;-)

          3. Rana

            Heh. I ended up doing that once with a student of mine, when he insisted for the couple of weeks of class on being called by his last name only, with title, as in “Mr. Smith” rather than “John.” After a while it became clear he’d been joking, and hadn’t expected me to honor his request, but by then there was no graceful way to stop. I ended up just ticking him off on the roll when I saw him, and didn’t call him by any name at all. It was pretty embarrassing for both of us, and we were relieved when the semester was finally over.

        2. AnotherAlison

          I guess I’ve heard that advice somewhere before. If I walk by the president of the division, I say, “Hi, Name, How are you?” But, if I just walk by a random friend, all they get is “Hey.”

          What frustrates me the most is the simultaneous, “How’s it going?”

          1. Jamie

            I wish – I would totally work for Dwight.

            World Domination while running a beet farm…I couldn’t ask for a better career.

        3. Living in Germany

          I work someplace where you say “good morning/day Mr. / Ms. X!” when you pass them in the hallway.

          I also worked someplace else where you also had to shake hands with the person the FIRST time you saw them that day. I was appalled by the rule, because I didn’t see how people could keep track of WHO they had shaken hands THAT day.

      3. Jamie

        Oh – and about the subordinate saying hello first? That’s not what Mike Davis said in my favorite Tiger Oil Memo of all time:

        “Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don’t want to ruin it by saying hello to all of you sons-of-bitches.”

        I learned everything I need to know about business communications from the Tiger Oil Memos. So when I don’t say hello to you, it’s simply because I’m respecting your need to save your throat.

        And just because the addendum is just as good:

        This memorandum is intended as an addendum to a memo I wrote on January 12, 1978 about people speaking to me. Any supervisor who has anything to say to me, day or night, the fastest way he can say it to me is too slow. The terms about not talking to me meant I do not have time to stop and talk to everyone — saying hello, goodbye, goodnight, etc. — that is what I was talking about. If you have business with me, the fastest way is too slow — day or night.

      4. Hari

        Although as a supervisor or a veteran employee I would feel like it would be better of me to initiate, at first at least, saying hi or conversation just to set a welcoming tone and relax the new subordinate or employee. The new employee might not say hi first out of fear of stepping bounds or nervousness but if a manager or veteran expected the new employee to engage first I feel like that would be purely due to their own self-inflated superiority of their ego.

    2. A Heather

      Great point. It would have been kinder of her to just casually do that than to go straight to the supervisor after she’d already been hired.

    3. ladybug

      I once worked as an A/P clerk for a conservative Japanese company. One of my co-workers complained the president was so unfriendly and didn’t even say good morning to her. I said when I say good morning to him, he always said good morning back to me. Her reply was that he should say good morning first. I always say good morning to everyone no matter their position in the company; it never hurts to be friendly. When they company needed to restructure, although she was with the company longer, I stayed and she was laid off.

      1. Catherine

        I get really annoyed by all this “Well, s/he should have said it FIRST.” Who the hell knows they are supposed to say it first? We can’t read minds, people. There is no law, as strongly as one might believe, that governs who says what first in social interactions. It’s all fluid.

      2. MaryTerry

        ” Her reply was that he should say good morning first.”

        Yeah, you start doing that, and next they’re going to want you to SMILE. Before coffee.

      3. Kelly O

        I temped once for a company owned and run by gentlemen from a Southeast Asian country. Suffice to say the etiquette for doing everything was very, very different, and consequences for not meeting their expectations was quick and clear.

        No speaking to them unless they spoke to you, and you must always address them as “Mr. LastName” – I mean, with this bunch I cannot imagine doing anything differently, but it’s very part of the culture and the way they do business.

        1. Bluesie

          Working in France I found the etiquette is very different. It was expected that as you arrive you say “Bonjour” and probably also shake hands with every person in the immediate office (this may vary according to seniority and whether they are busy at the time).

          The first time you see someone that day you should say “Bonjour” – but not on subsequent occasions (saying Bonjour to someone to whom you already said it a couple of hours ago causes slight amusement and a “Re-bonjour” accompanied by a laugh).

          You would certainly be thought rude or at the least unfriendly if you failed to greet people in the corridor or the lift.

          Social occasions are similar – every time someone new arrives at a party, they go round the entire room giving the kiss on each cheek (or sometimes a handshake). It seems to uses up a LOT of time to one unaccustomed to the etiquette!

          Incidentally, if you go into a shop the same applies: it is really very impolite not to greet the shopholder/baker/butcher/etc. with “Bonjour Monsieur” or “Bonjour Madame”. A shop or even a bus is viewed as the private space of the shop owner/bus driver rather than as a public space the way it might be in the UK/US.

          1. Amouse

            So cool to get the French perspective! Also using “tu” instead of “vous” (informal “you” vs. formal “you” would be considered impolite n’est-ce pas? :-)

            1. Bluesie

              That’s a tricky one: yes and no.

              In general at work I stuck to “vous”, but over time I discovered that it can make you seem stand-offish in some circumstances. As someone who speaks French as a second language, it can be difficult to judge, but for those I worked with frequently, and especially peers, I learned to follow their lead and switch to “tu” if they did it first.

              At one place I worked I frequently did tasks for a senior executive who was much older and much more senior than me. He began to use “tu” to me but I just couldn’t bring myself to stop using “vous”. Looking back, we had a great working relationship and I could certainly have followed his lead without worrying about appearing disrespectful.

              1. Amouse

                ah interesting! I’ve heard about how those dynamics work within families and friends and with elders but it’s cool to get some insight into how it operates in the workplace. Thanks!

              2. HH

                Being French I still have difficulties switching to “tu” for people like senior managers or executives. But I think it’s acceptable to have them speak to you using “tu” and responding with “vous”; it just sounds a bit like when we where at school, though.

                I still use “vous” for one of my ex-bosses although everyone around is using “tu”. I was the youngest hire there so that might have been a reason.

                Using “vous” to coworkers, though, sounds really stiff after a couple of days.

                As for the rounds of kissing/shaking hands, I have set up a limit to that with my friends: over 10 people, I just wave my hand at everyone. If you really have to kiss/shake hands with everyone in the room, it’s also an incentive for coming on time or early to any social gathering: if you’re there early, you greet a limited number of people, and anyone coming after you has to make the first move to greet you :-)

                1. Grace

                  Really appreciate this perspective! I speak probably an intermediate level of French and my daughter recently started attending a French school. It’s nice to get clarification of how this works in office settings.

        2. John Quincy Adding Machine

          I worked in a school in Southeast Asia last year, and greeting etiquette was insane. I had different greetings depending on if I passed teachers who were on the same level as me, teachers who had military rank, my department head, or the school director. The only one I consistently got right was if passing a teacher who also happened to be a Buddhist monk, in which case I was supposed to bow my head (not at him, but as a way of showing that he was a higher status than me), not make eye contact, and give him a wide berth so as to avoid touching him.

      4. Kelly

        I came down here, even though this was posted earlier today, because I was curious if anyone else brought up possible cultural differences. I teach Arabic and Spanish – in college I interned in Jordan. In the MENA region, not greeting someone whenever you enter a shared space is very offensive. Every time I work in a cross-cultural circumstance (for example, an Arabic camp where half the employees were from Arab countries and half of us were of American background) it has become a major issue. People would definitely raise it with supervisors.

        It isn’t a big deal when you know how it works. I know everyone thinks the coworker in the story is crazy, but if you grew up with a cultural background that views greeting people as a sign of respect and not doing it as an intentionally rude gesture, this is a fairly subdued response. Something to consider.

    4. Loretta

      Yeah, but you do that, and from the moment you make the intro, you realize its a mistake, and you go on for months feeling an idiot everytime you speak first to this woman. All this trivial behavioral stuff stinks.

  7. Emily, admin extraordinaire

    Whenever I worked temp jobs, I kept to myself as much as possible. Because you’re not an actual coworker. You’re just a temp. After a few days or weeks you’re never going to see these people again. You don’t have any stake in the company. You’re there to do a specific job or work on a specific project, and then you’re out of there. And most companies treated me with the same civil (in some cases, not-so-civil) indifference. Now, some offices were very friendly and invited me to go to lunch with them, but I would never put myself out to invite coworkers to go to lunch (expect for any other temps). I even feel awkward using the company lunchroom. Of course, I’m an introvert.

    Now, when I’ve been hired permanently, that’s different.

    1. Amouse

      Couldn’t being friendly when you’re a temp help you to potentially get hired permanently? Oh well it sounds like you did anyway so good for you.

      1. Mike

        Couldn’t just being friendly with others just so you don’t feel miserable, lonely and alientated at work just be a nice thing to do? Without worring about getting a permanent job?

        I don’t get these workplace games . . . I’m a temp at a utlity. I use the lunch room cuase that’s what it is, a lunch room. Maybe this is why I can’t get a permanent job . . .

        1. Jamie

          Not everyone who doesn’t say hello is miserable, lonely, or alienated.

          Some people just don’t have much need for this minor and superficial social contact – other people need it far more.

          This may be one of the biggest of the introvert/extrovert crossroads.

            1. Cut and Dried?

              I’m having a hard time with this introvert/extrovert distinction. Can you be a but of both? Because i think that’s what I am. My own weird mix of neuroses and personality traits that add up to being introverted in some situations and extroverted in others. Saying hi in the hallways? Not a problem. Doing a presentation in front of the whole company? Quaking in my stylish yet affordable boots.

              1. Jamie

                Yes – if you have a chance to check out Susan Cain’s TED speach on YouTube on the topic it’s really good.

                It depends where you fall on the spectrum. Those toward the middle are ambiverts and have traits of both…and no one is 100% one or the other.

                1. Heather

                  Her new book is also amazing. When I was reading it, I drove my husband nuts. I kept running in to tell him, “Look! This is why I do [insert introvert thing]! It’s not just because I’m crazy!”

              2. Aimee

                I’m an extroverted introvert. I can be “on” when I need to. Want me to get up and give a presentation in front of a stadium full of people? No problem! Need me to go out on a sales call to help pitch the product I manage? I hate it, but I can do it and you’ll never know how much I’m hating it. But when I’m done, I need to get away from everyone and recharge.

                And that is really what makes someone an introvert or extrovert; how they recharge. If you find you get energy from being around other people, you’re most likely an extrovert. If you find you need quite a bit of alone time to recharge your energy, you are probably an introvert. That doesn’t mean that extroverts don’t ever need down time/quite time/alone time or that introverts can’t enjoy a good party on occasion. But just from my experience, if I go to a big gathering where I don’t know most people, I’m going to want to stay home and avoid people the entire next day.

                1. sam.i.am

                  We’re opposites! I’m 100% extroverted, in that I need lots of people and social time. But I’m also fairly shy and reserved (for an extrovert, so I’m still pretty outgoing). I am literally happiest sitting and observing a crowded room or hanging out with two or three people I know in a huge party. Which is not to say I don’t like a little alone time, but even then, I’m probably on Twitter.

                2. AnotherAdmin

                  @Aimee – I am exactly the same! I am an introvert that can do extrovert type things well, but then I need to recharge with some good old shut-up-and-leave-me-alone-for-a-while time afterwards.

                  I used to have a supervisor who was an EXTREME extrovert (and a bit of a power tripper) and announced her every coming and going with slamming of doors and great fanfare that had to be acknowledged, “I’m going to the bank! I’ll be back in five minutes!” She would also insist on standing over my desk (when it was convenient for her) and talk endlessly about whatever subject entered her brain regardless of how busy I was. God forbid you try to speak to her (about anything) when she was busy – you did not exist.

                  My current coworkers are much more low key. I work in a high traffic area and my coworkers come and go constantly so we are all respectful of each others time. Everyone gets a fluffy good morning/how are you exchange on their first entrance in the morning. After that, its the glance/nod/smile combo if I’m buried in a project, or a hey, or a hey + banter, or a conversation if there is info to trade.

                  I think anyone who demands to be acknowledged every single time they are viewed are either a) insecure, b) power tripping, c) clueless, or d) all of the above.

                  We all want to feel like we matter (thus the need for acknowledgement), but we don’t have to be jackasses about it.

              3. Ariancita

                I used to think i was an introvert, then I found out I just had hypothyroidism. True story! :) (I’ve always been really high energy though, so when I had to clarify to my friends that, no, not hyPERthyrodism, they seemed a little frightened.) :)

              4. cristalexi

                Saying Hi is socialising, giving a presentation is not socialising. They are completely different things.

          1. Amouse

            I hope people don’t automatically jump to those assumption if introverts don’t say hi because that would be unfair. Still, shouldn’t one still try to assess their working environment and care a little about how they come across to others? Justly or unjustly, it can really affect working relationships especially if one’s supervisors or the majority or co-workers have a culture of saying hello or nodding etc.

            1. Mike

              I guess I was just taken aback by the idea of being friendly to get a permanent job rather than being friendly just becuase we are people lost in the digital age of mass communication and facelessnesss. I understand people are shy; I am shy plenty of times too. It’s not like saying hi to everyone down the street. These are people you see everyday. Reading other’s posts I think I’m the minority here.

                1. Jamie

                  Yep. The real extroverts are posting over at Ask a Manager: But you won’t hear the answer because you’ll be too busy organizing a team building exercise to pay attention.org

                  It’s a new blog.

                  And for the record I’m just teasing – I love extroverts. I married one. I don’t understand them, but I do love some of them.

                2. Jamie

                  Thank you :).

                  You know what’s weird? For a community with such a high percentage of introverts I’m far more extroverted here than IRL.

                  Chatty, I guess. I think for me it’s the ability to participate in a discussion, but be able to close the browser when I have to get something done. Real people rarely allow you to pause a conversation while you go work for a few hours.

                  Also – I think online there’s more control over things that are more upsetting. If a thread is emotionally charged you can just not check the RSS for that post. In real life emotionally charged topics can be harder to avoid once the genie is out of the bottle.

                  And a lot of times I’d way rather talk to you guys than some people I work with…which I’m sure makes me a bad person, so I won’t examine it too closely.

                3. Rana

                  And you can stare at your responses on the screen and see if they make sense before you press “reply.”

                  Not that I’m always doing that, but I like having the option.

              1. KY

                It’s not always because someone is shy. Introverts are so misunderstood! I’m a very quiet person, but it’s not because I’m shy. It’s because I’m always thinking about something. I literally will be getting work done in my head as I walk down the hall, whether it be troubleshooting a problem I’m having, thinking about my response to an email in my queue, the phone call I’m about to make, etc. I probably don’t even notice you if I walk by because my mind is working on something else.

                1. Jamie

                  Right. Shy is completely different and more about social judgment (tm Susan Cain – and no I don’t work for her – ha).

                  The Intro/Extro thing is about how you get your energy and what kind of stimulation you need to be your most productive/happy.

                  The level of stimulation that many extroverts need to hit that sweet spot will be very uncomfortable to most extroverts – over a period of time.

                2. Hari

                  This is me as well! I’m an introvert when it comes to getting things done and I will space off in my own world a lot to tackle problems. But in a group, I am very sociable and talkative.

                3. KLH

                  Right! And another thing about introverts to remember is that we process information/stimula differently then extroverts do. I like to talk with others as a way to analyze a problem, but the actual creative work of solving it? Let’s just retreat and regroup for that. I need to be in my brain. And I get marvelous ideas just shelving books alone.

                  And we can get burned out on too much information. That’s one of my biggest problems.

                4. A Heather

                  I think there’s just a bit too much salient categorization going on here; too much us vs. them. I think people might be primarily extrovert or introvert but really everyone is a mix of both and that depends on an extremely complex set of factors. So when you have categorization like this, as is happening here it creates polarization between those that perceive themselves to be more on one side or the other. In the workplace polarization usually isn’t a good thing. So I just htink introverts and exteoverts alike should use their social skills to try and find a common middle ground.

                  But I like everyone in the world to be happy and get along as much as possible whenever they can.

                5. Ask a Manager Post author

                  FWIW, introversion/extraversion isn’t about whether you’re outgoing or shy or whatever. It’s about what energizes you and what depletes you. So most people are one or the other rather than a combo.

                6. Amouse

                  This in in reply to Alison’s last comment:
                  Ok but there are also a lot of factors in how someone actually acts and in which situaitons they might be extroverted vs. introverted. There is a lot of stereotyping going on here and that isn’t necessarily helpful in the big picture of getting along at work. That’s just my opinion. It’s still been really interesting to read though and very insightful

                7. NewReader

                  I had a funny thing happen.
                  I had just read about intros/extros and recharging. I went on to learn that intros think inside their heads and extros think out loud.
                  Intros and extros can be annoying to each other for this reason.
                  WELL. It was a few days later, I had a perfect example happen at work.
                  A coworker approached me with a problem. I understood the nature of the problem and agreed to help.
                  Then I fell SILENT because I was THINKING. hahaha
                  My coworker did not stop talking for one second. Finally she landed on “You don’t believe me that is why you are not talking.”

                  At this point my train of thought had derailed for the 18th time because of her constant talking. Then I remembered what I read.
                  The writer suggested that intros needed to speak up and state their thoughts OUT LOUD in instances such as mine.
                  So I did. I stepped through my train of thought in my out loud voice.
                  It was sooo weird.
                  It felt like my thoughts had stepped out in their underwear. They were not dressed and presentable yet.
                  Additionally, it took me a lot longer to process the problem.

                  I was sooo surprised that my coworker did not even notice that my thoughts were half baked, that I was stumbling around.
                  I guess she was glad I was talking again.

                  We did find the solution for her problem. And I am guessing- because she is an extro she probably forgot that she accused me of not believing her. That made me feel bad (momentarily) – I was helping her BECAUSE I did believe her.

                8. Jamie

                  Thoughts in their underwear – that is exactly it! I love that.

                  NewReader that may be one of the best descriptors of he phenomenon yet.

                  When I first heard Susan Cain say that whether you’re an introvert or extrovert is as significant to how you relate to the world as your sex I was really skeptical. But the more I looked into this the more sense that began to make.

                  I think part of the reason there can be conflict is related to the reason you mentioned about rushing to express your thoughts to accommodate her need to hear them.

                  If your need is for solitude and to be in your own head all you need is space and your own thoughts. However if you need interaction with others to work or feel stimulated by definition you can’t meet that need by yourself. If that can be fulfilled by interacting with other people who are willing, that’s great.

                  I collaborate, great things come from working together. But I had a colleague once who had an almost insatiable need to engage and it regularly collided with my need for him to shut the hell up for 5 freaking minutes…that’s where conflicts arise.

                  And I would say deference should go to the least intrusive habit. As others have stated, I too am often working out a problem, or troubleshooting a line of code in my head as I’m walking to the bathroom or whatever. That should take precedence, IMO, over someones need for me to notice they are walking the same hallway and nod my head at them.

                  Because my need to be in my own head isn’t bothering anyone else, their need for a hello breaks my train of thought.

                9. NewReader

                  This is for Jamie’s post on 9/11 at 8:56. We will see if it lands underneath, your comment, Jamie.

                  Thoughts in underwear… and it’s not the good underwear. It’s the tired/stretched out/pilled up stuff – like what we keep at the back of the drawer just in case we don’t get around to doing laundry. It’s the old underwear.

                  Yes, I was waaaay outside my comfort zone on that whole thing.

          2. Xay

            +10000000

            I make an effort to say hi because extroverts like it. But in fact, I am perfectly happy coming to work, going to my desk and working all day without having casual chitchat with anyone.

          3. Hari

            Agreed. But it seemed like the original comment came from the belief that as a temp you should keep your head down and stay out of the way as much as possible (to the point of alienation) because you aren’t an actual employee. I think Mike’s comment was just rebutting that idea.

            But I do agree. I used to freelance at a place where 90% of the office hung out on weekends but I did things with my own friends on weekends.

            1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

              My first temp job was when I was 18 and working for the summer before I went to college; my last was for a few weeks before being hired permanently where I am. My “keep your head down and do your work” philosophy started at that first job, where the other people in the building didn’t even bother to learn our names, let alone expect greetings– and it was a long-term project we were working on, too. I got dirty looks when I used the breakroom or dared to make myself a hot chocolate from the company stock. Most of the other companies (except the friendly one and the one I’m at now) treated us similarly. I acted like I wasn’t an actual employee because I wasn’t treated like one. Being a natural introvert probably contributed, but mostly I behaved that way because it seemed I was expected to.

              I’m not trying to say that every temp does this, and I definitely don’t think that every temp should, but looking at the OP’s info that this employee was A) a temp and B) kind of shy, I extrapolated from my own experience a possible reason why she might not have been as outgoing as people may have wanted her to be.

              1. Hari

                I’m sorry that has been your experience! I used to work as a part-time admin for my college’s law school program (not through work-study, actual employee). They had a full-time temp there, who had been there for 2 years and 3 more temps had come after her who they had hired, and they treated her like dirt. By the time I started she had gotten permission to use the breakroom but only the one on the floor where she worked. They also were highly critical and watched everything she did. She was very nice and good at her job, so I suppose thats why they kept her but I have no idea why they would treat her that way. In contrast, I was treated well. I don’t understand organizations with cultures like that, especially those who keep long term temps.

      2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

        I never said I wasn’t friendly. I’d smile at people if they walked by, I’d say ‘Hi’ back if they greeted me first, I’d be happy and chipper when people introduced themselves, or when I was introduced to people. But I quickly found that most of the time, the people at the places I worked looked on temps as second-class citizens. It was “here’s where you sit, here’s what you do, let us know when you’re done.” On more than one occasion I had to ask where the breakroom was, and was given the information so reluctantly that it was obvious they didn’t want me to use it. The only place I was introduced to more than the immediate team I was working with was the friendly one I mentioned before, and while I was scheduled to only work for them for two weeks, I ended up being there for five (they were very pleased with my work and gave me a bigger project. I even helped them establish some new guidelines so the mess I was there to clean up wouldn’t happen again). If they hadn’t already hired someone for the position I was filling in for (there was a gap before the new person could start) I probably would have been offered the job. Even there, though, I had to wait at the door to get in or call my supervisor to come let me in for three weeks before they finally issued me a temporary security badge.

        On one temp job I did try to be more outgoing and friendly, and the feedback I got from them was that I talked too much (and they never wanted me to come back). So I went back to my “keep your head down and do your work” strategy. It worked for me.

        1. Kelly O

          Yup – when you’re a temp you have to walk such a different line, especially if you’re the admin or receptionist. You know sometimes you won’t be there long, so you’re not looking to make deeper relationships, you’re just there to do the job they’ve asked you to do, as quickly and without hiccup as possible.

          And I get what Emily’s saying about being polite but not overly friendly. I’ve been in plenty of situations where, even as a permanent admin, I’m privy to things like pay scales, benefits packages, and dealing with the paperwork after their conversations with a boss or HR (or in some cases, just listening to a boss vent about whatever has been brought to her.) So keeping a comfortable working distance helps keep you from being dragged into any potentially awkward conversation.

          For example, this happened to me once (once, and I learned my lesson.) I became sort of friends with a coworker. I did all the payroll, benefits, new hire paperwork, interview stuff, whole nine yards. This coworker asked me, in a very roundabout way, what the pay rate for a particular position was. I was smart enough to not tell her, but it put a really odd tone over the rest of the conversation as I tried laughing her off and changing subjects. I had another coworker, with whom I was not particularly close, who wanted me to “slip” our director a resume that had not gone through the proper channels, because it was her “bestie.”

          Suffice to say, I completely understand keeping that working distance. You can be polite and even friendly, but I certainly don’t speak to everyone or expect everyone to speak to me.

          (Now, I will say this – we have a new VP at my office. I ran into her at Target one day on lunch. Like, almost literally ran into her. I said “Hello, New VP Lady.” She looked right at me, said “Hello Kelly” turned around and walked away. Not even an “oops, on the wrong aisle again” thing or whatever. That actually hurt my feelings a bit, especially since I’m supposed to be her assistant. That’s another long story.)

    2. Jesse

      I temped for a better part of a year at one company. By the time I left, I still wasn’t included invited out to the Friday lunches. I think you described it best as “civil indifference.” I remember sometimes telling a story (completely work appropriate, and funny to boot) and everyone just remained silent, staring at me. But the office filer could get everyone to laugh at her “night at the bar stories.” (And she came in hung-over).

      1. K.

        It does vary company to company. I did one contract for a few months where they were really friendly, took me to lunch on my last day, I got to go to the holiday party, etc. (That wasn’t an administrative temp role; maybe that made a difference.) I did another (the one I mentioned on a previous posts where temps didn’t get internet access) where the only person who was friendly was the guy who brought me his crosswords; everyone else was indifferent. Another where it was sort of split. I do tend to smile and say good morning just because that’s how I roll (I’d say I’m both an introvert and extrovert) – but there were some places I temped where people would respond and ask me about my weekend and compliment my shoes, and some where they just wouldn’t reply back.

  8. AnotherAlison

    This reminds me of a story & you can all have a laugh at my expense. My first interaction with my husband was at work when I was just out of high school. We worked in the same general area on the production floor at a plant, but not together.

    He came up to me and said, “Can I tell you something?” I said something like a noncommittal okay. He said, “People around here don’t care if you smile,” which I rarely did. I was completely embarrassed. He said later that his buddy asked him what he said to me because my face turned as red as my shirt. Normally, in those days something like that would have put someone on my enemies list, but instead I relented to his pestering and went out with him a few weeks later. He still likes to tease me sometimes, but he knows I won’t put up with much. (Extroverts. Harumph.)

    I don’t know that my story provides any useful advice to the OP, but I guess you could say it is better to blend in with the general workplace protocol to say hi or nod (at least to THOSE people who expect it) and avoid being singled out and embarrassed.

    1. Ellie H.

      I’m glad your story has a nice ending (that you got married)! I invariably want to murder anyone who comments on my facial expression, tells me to smile, tells me I look worried, etc.

      1. Catherine

        I’m with you there. People think I’m deathly ill when they see my default face, which is relaxed and not smiling. Apparently I look like I’ve just been told I have a week to live.

        1. AnotherAlison

          One of my bosses now is always saying stuff like “Why are you giving me the death stare?” I’m always bewildered. . .um, just my normal look. Sorry : )

          1. Jamie

            We should form a club. My natural expression seems to prompt people to ask what’s wrong – as if I’m angry or aggravated.

            Until they see what I really look like when I’m pissed and then my natural at rest expression looks positively radiant.

            I’ve also gotten “death stare” more than once in my life. Must be a common expression. Usually when I’m looking past someone because I don’t have my glasses on. Not a death stare – just far sighted – but thanks for commenting! Ugh.

            1. Elizabeth

              Yes! My boss would often look at me and put his fingers in the corners of his mouth using a gesture to tell me to smile. My relaxed face is apparently scowl-y, and due to some eye issues bright lights in the office make me squint a little so I must always look extra pissed off. And it’s always men who tell me to smile. Then I have to do the “I’m not into this at all smile” which probably looks more deranged than my normal face. I guess I just find it a weird invasion of privacy that my boss is trying to control my face. Leave me the eff alone!

                1. Catherine

                  Just to throw in a wrench – it’s my mother-in-law who is telling me to smile. I have actually been told more from women than men that I need to smile and look cheerier.

                2. Jamie

                  I can’t reply to Alison as we’ve nested in too deep – but that link is my new favorite bookmark (besides AAM) ever!

                  Seriously – the author wove “asshat” and Ozzy throughout a really well written piece on this – what’s not to love?

                3. Ellie H.

                  I can’t even describe how much this irritates me Whenever someone does this to me it makes me start looking much WORSE because it pisses me off so much. My instinctual reaction to someone asking me what’s wrong or telling me I look worried is to say “Really” or “Is that so,” in an incredibly cold tone, which invariably produces confusion. It’s worse when you’re with someone who has no knowledge of this ever happening to anyone and then it seems like you’re just being rude to a well-meaning bystander. Alison, thanks so much for the link – I had not seen it before.

                4. Patti

                  “My boss is trying to control my face”… I’m cracking up at these comments.

                  I get that a lot, too. “What’s wrong? Why do you look so mean?” Whatever it is, your pointing it out isn’t going to help. Move along, before you get yourself hurt.

                5. Ariancita

                  Where I was raised, it’s an absolute cultural convention (but for both men and women). When I moved away from the middle of nowhere to a major city at 18, boy did that smile at everyone and generally carry a pleasant face invite some attention I didn’t know how to handle. I still do it now, though to less of an extent (there’s a touch of side-eye in there), and I have to say it has actually proven to be a huge benefit (if combined with proper street smarts). The nice smile + pleasant face 1 2 combo punch has opened so many doors for me. But, agreed that no one should feel like it’s ok to tell anyone else how to emote.

                6. Quiet too

                  I get it from females (I am male.) Mind my own business but women seem to be put off when you do not act like a groveling half wit when they pass

              1. Esra

                Ah I had a manager who used to tell me to smile. He was basically the worst: sexist, racist, homophobic.

                He would tell a terrible sexist/racist/homophobic/some-combination-of-the-three joke and when met with my (inevitable) stony-faced frown would tell me to smile and say I have no sense of humour.

              2. KayDay

                I can think of few things more grating than having random strangers, polite acquaintances, and/or professional contacts take it upon themselves to give me orders regarding my facial expression.

                …and yet it happens all the effing time.

            2. Hari

              Another +1 here. Once my uncle drove past me on the street (I didn’t see him) and he told me he had no worries I would ever be attack or threatened because I had this “Not to be messed with” look on my face like I was just waiting for someone to even try something. But I was just walking normally and spacing out lol.

            3. Kelly O

              If I had a dollar for every time I was just standing there, minding my own business, perfectly happy, and someone asked me “what’s wrong?”

      2. EM

        There was an interesting side discussion on Corporette about people (usually men, sometimes older men) who tell other people (usually women) to “smile” or ask “what’s wrong?” when they have their normal “I’m sitting on a subway” face. Apparently there is this unspoken cultural expectation that women must be pleasant to look at and that men are free to don a neutral facial expression. Someone mentioned this phenomenon being called “the objectivity of the male gaze” or something like that.

        1. Rana

          You can’t win, either. If you’re there with your neutral face, they get annoyed for that; if you look grouchy, then you’re “mean” and that’s a problem; if you smile and look pleasant, then you’re fending off jerks who think that’s an invitation.

          I am pleased, however, that I’ve inherited my mother’s Death Glare. It works particularly when crossing streets in front of impatient drivers, but is effective on rambunctious children, rude men, etc.

  9. Victoria

    I’ve been on the receiving end of that “feedback,” only it was couched as a “this is why we’re not promoting you to specialist” review. Someone had actually complained to my supervisor that, because I smiled and nodded at them in the hallway INSTEAD OF verbally saying “good morning,” then I was rude and unfriendly.

    That particular company was overly concerned with people getting along and being nice to each other. Personally, I’ve noticed it more in places where more women work than men.

    1. LMW

      I had a similar experience. Apparently I needed to be bubbly and smiley…and a completely different person. (I thought I just needed to be polite, respectful, friendly and do a good job. Who knew?)

      1. Tax Nerd

        I kind of ‘had’ to deliver such feedback once. (I wasn’t required to, but the person needed to hear it, for the sake of her career.) People had complained that she wasn’t smiling and/or looked frustrated when she was sitting at her desk, working. It was one of those horrendous open office plans, and she was particularly visible, but still. If she was concentrating on work, and getting her work done, I didn’t think it should matter that she wasn’t smiling through it.

        Nevertheless, I heard higher-ups complain about it and talk of not giving her a job offer, so I took her aside and mentioned that people noticed that she looked frustrated when they thought should be smiling, though I also told her I didn’t particularly think it should matter. She admitted she’d been frustrated at being given the equivalent of copying, while other interns were doing more interesting stuff, but she didn’t want to complain. Since she was in grad school, and they were still in undergrad, she thought she’d done something wrong, and didn’t know what it was. I told her that the person assigning work hadn’t seen their resumes, and was just told there’d be a handful of interns. I offered to have her help me, and I gave her the most complex projects I could scrounge up. She perked up after that, and got an offer with another department, but I never ceased to find it stupid that she was judged on her facial expression while staring at her computer screen.

    2. Hari

      Urgh that would annoy the crap out of me and I AM usually bubbly and smiley when I’m not zoned out (its pretty much 50/50). Although not to be sexiest against my own gender but I’ve noticed much more relaxed interactions in environments where there is mostly men versus women.

      1. LMW

        You know, my environment was mostly women, but when I transferred to a new department, my new boss was disgusted by the problem and said it never would have happened if I were a man.

  10. ladybug

    Although chatting in the kitchen is not a necessary part of the job it is a good way to build professional relationships. I have found asking someone how there day is going sometimes lead to information that impacted my job. Re-introducing her to everyone once she is hired is a good idea. If possible, I would also assign her tasks or projects that require her to interact with others in the company. Over time she will become less shy.

    1. Jen in RO

      I agree with ladybug. I was scared to death of everyone when I started my current job, I was convinced they thought I was stupid because I didn’t understand anything. Things got much better once I got some experience, but also once I started actually working with people and building relationships. (And the weekly company volleyball session rocks!)

    2. Min

      Assigning tasks that force someone to interact with co-workers more does just that – it forces interaction. It may help her begin to feel more comfortable with those specific people or it may not, but it will not make her less shy. You cannot train someone into being an extrovert, only how to act like one.

  11. Sara

    This reminds me of a time when I had a coworker who would never speak a word to me. I would say that maybe he was shy except he clearly wasn’t, he would greet everyone with a smile and I mean hugs, hi-fives, conversations etc….but wiht me, he was totally silent. I’d say “hi” he’d ignore it or murmur something inaudible. So of course I took it personally and could never figure out why he didn’t like me.

    Has the coworker mentioned that they would initiate conversation and be met with chilly reception? Or that the temp seems to be friendly with many people and the coworker feels excluded? because I can understand that feeling…. BUT based on the letter, I highly doubt that the temp is acting like this–the OP says that she’s friendly and nice person once you get to know her…i think the coworker just has too much time on their hands + a huge ego to complain about something that unless it matches the scenario I mentioned..is quite petty.

  12. Quiet too

    I’ve noticed a distinct different set of expectations on the “hello.” I can pass a Director and say “hello” and maybe get a head nod back (and this is someone I work with.) Most times nothing, so stopped saying ‘hello” thinking it was unimportant. Then there is a danger of being labled “unengaged” – the new target on your back in these days of high unemployment

  13. clobbered

    Been there. Well I tend to get caught up in my thoughts and don’t greet people – actually more specifically, I don’t recall passing them. In fact if someone greets me I can be so startled out my train of thought that I struggle to recall their name, even if they are a long-time coworker.

    In my career I have had two people actually complain about this (one to my boss, one to my corworker). In both cases these were women (in what is a male dominated technical field, so I think it is a statistically significant observation) and in both cases they believed I was deliberately blanking them over some minor technical disagreement.

    My boss handled it pretty well (“I think it’s crazy but just so you know…”) and I made an effort with these two from then on. It literally was an effort (I had a giant mental interrupt fllag for GREET KATE whenever I saw them) but hey, whatever it takes for a quiet life.

  14. The OP

    Thanks for the advice! My gut reaction was that this feedback was definitely more about the coworker giving it than it had anything to do with my employee, so I’m glad to hear you confirm it. I think people can forget that while one new coworker is easy to remember and feel comfortable with, joining a job where there’s 20+ new people in your area is definitely a different experience. The other tricky thing is that our projects work independently of each other, so there’s not really an opportunity for her to get to know people through work.

    I found the feedback so bizarre because she is incredibly nice. A little quiet in the hallways, but not the kind of person who comes off standoffish or rude. Just a touch shy around people she doesn’t know.

    The good news is that I hired her yesterday! When my coworker gave me that feedback, one of the solutions I proposed was that I’d make sure to introduce her to the staff once I hired her so she feels officially part of the company. The two options I’ve seen done are trotting her around to the offices to introduce her one-by-one and making an announcement at our next staff monthly birthday celebration. My inclination is the latter (with her permission, of course) because even I don’t really know all the folks I sit near very well and am wary of interrupting work, but I’m more of an extrovert — I’d love some introverts weighing in on this.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’d take her around and introduce her to people individually. Because if you do a mass announcement at your next staff meeting, people will know who she is, but she won’t know who they are. You want the introduction to go both ways. (Also, don’t make her wait for the next meeting; do it now.)

      1. Kelly O

        Definitely this way.

        I would have a way better chance of remembering names (and also where to find Jane in Accounting) if I meet them individually.

        Plus it also gives her a chance to meet people on their home turf – so she can see things like the big Cowboys calendar on their cubicle, or their pictures of their kid or cat or dog, and maybe help her remember more – okay Jane in Accounting has the gorgeous chocolate lab on her desk, Mary in Operations is a huge Cowboys fan – it give you something to associate with that person.

        And, if she’s really shy, the whole “Hey y’all this is Kim and she’s new so everyone say hi!” thing will be just horrible. I mean, I am okay in new people situations, but I hate feeling like that whole light is on me and everyone else is staring, especially when I’m the new person. (And I feel uncomfortable for others introduced for the first time in that way.)

    2. Jesse

      Do it one by one. And over a couple of days. I’m in introvert. Having an entire office stare at me would just be overwhelming.

      Introducing one by one allows you the opportunity to say “This is Jane. She’s in charge of Chocolate Teapot distribution. But if she’s not in, Jim also knows a fair bit about what to do for most situations. Feel free to ask him as well.”

      I wasn’t introduced one-by-one at my job, and the first few months I kept making decisions that should’ve been handed off to someone else in my department.

      1. Laura

        I’m an introvert and would much rather get something like this over in one shot (the group intro) than meet people individually. I don’t mind being up in front of a group, but one-on-one interactions with strangers are horrible for me. We all have our own special brand of crazy. BUT, Alison’s right: the point is that she needs to meet people and get to know who *they* are, not that everyone in the office needs to know who *she* is. It has nothing to do with her (potentially) being an introvert and everything to do with the goal of the introductions.

    3. rosie

      I would take her around to meet key people she will need to know for work, and then send around an office-wide email with a brief bio. Include information about where she sits and invite people to stop by to say hello.

      1. The OP

        She’s been here almost a year now, so she already knows the people on our team really well. That’s sort of the unusual aspect of this situation — the coworker who complained works for a group that just sits next to our project. The only interactions she’ll ever really need to have with them is to say hi in the hallways. I definitely think I’ll follow your advice and introduce her around anyway. Our company’s not always great at new employee training/welcoming and I want to make sure I do right by her and make her feel comfortable.

        1. Megan

          Buy some donuts or cookies and sit them near her desk. Send out a staff email announcing her official hiring and for people to come grab a snack and introduce themselves. This will drag out the process (in a good way) and possibly allow for a more casual introduction.

    4. Anonymous

      When we have new employees start, there is an office-wide email announcing their hire; when when they officially start, I always give them a tour (though she may already know the place if she’s been there as a temp) and during that process, introduce them to everyone individually. “Coworker Name, this is New Employee name, our new Position Title.” I think the one on one is much better, and even if she won’t immediately know everyone’s name just by one introduction, it helps start connecting names and faces.

      1. Jamie

        That you announce it via email and make introductions is lovely. It’s so simple, why don’t more people do this?

        It’s really rare, IME. It’s usually more of a “who’s that?” around the places I’ve worked.

      2. A Heather

        My HR department sends an e-mail out introducing new people with their photo. I thought it was nice when I started. The tour is always better though.

    5. Emily

      I’m a very friendly introvert. I love people, I love going out with friends, I love having long interesting conversations with people…but I find it all exhausting, so I can only manage a little bit at a stretch, and then I need to go be alone with myself to recharge my batteries. The defining trait of introverts is less whether they *enjoy* socializing and more whether it exhausts them to do so (some introverts like to socialize and some don’t, but we all find it exhausting). Because we find socializing exhausting, we tend to avoid socializing that we see as having little to no purpose (see: small talk), so we can save our energy for better uses. Personally, when I pass my coworkers in the hall or kitchen I make eye contact for a second and smile, and that’s that.

      I recently started a new job and there are a lot of people for me to meet. My boss set up meetings between me and each person or team I’d be working with, where we sat in a room together and each coworker explained to me what their role was and how our jobs would interact with each other. I had 2-3 of these meetings a day for five days, which was just about perfect. Any more and I wouldn’t have had the energy to make it through the entire day, but each day by the end of the day there were a few more coworkers who wen’t from being strangers to known quantities. It was also great because it was only one or a few people to meet at a time, which made it easier for me to keep straight in my mind who’s who, as opposed to just being paraded past everyone one after another.

    6. MaryTerry

      And give her a map with everyone’s office labeled. Unless all the offices/cubes have name tags. I think all new hires should get one of these.

      1. The OP

        Rana, I definitely will. Her comfort in the new office is my primary concern, so once we get the technical logistics of her hiring taken care of (like where she’ll be sitting, etc.) I’m going to have a talk with her about what I can do to help her transition. I’ll definitely send out a group-wide email introducing her and take her around for tour to meet people (and whatever else she suggests).

  15. Sandrine

    A few weeks ago, the Vice President of my company (or something, 5000 employees or so… I think) was going through the hallways (the pleasure of working at the headquarters LOL) , saw me, and said hello.

    I was very pleased about it, because she’s the BIG BOSS and I’m just a phone peon, and of course I smiled and said “hi” back.

    When we’re in the elevator with other peeps, I always say “Have a nice day” when I get off, and even today my boss’ boss said “Hello Sandrine” (but I guess it was partly because they’re wishing me good luck on my internal interview).

    All in all, I guess it’s just to say that thankfully, in my company, no one gives a hoot as to who says hi first. Sometimes peeps who don’t know you say hi randomly, and I find that awesome :D .

  16. twentymilehike

    I was wondering if the coworker meant greet them in the halls every time they pass, or just the first time they see them for the day?

    Generally, my coworkers and I say good morning to each other the first time we see each other, but then we only really talk to each other if we need or want to. That seems pretty normal based on my other jobs, too.

  17. Eric

    I don’t generally speak to people unless I have a reason to. A reason would be “I know you and like you (and/or have to closely work with you), so will acknowledge your presence by saying hello.” But saying hi to random coworkers that I don’t really work with? No thanks.

    This is just one of those introvert/extrovert things.

  18. Maire

    This really touched a nerve with me. When i had my first part time job at 15, I was really nervous and shy. I wasn’t the type to go up to coworkers and start talking to them and I was very self conscious. My boss saw fit to seize on my shyness and actually penalise me for it; he wouldn’t allow me to serve customers while another girl who started at the same time was. He actually took me into his office several times and told me that I had to talk more and that I was too shy. Can you imagine the effect that had on someone who was already insecure?
    I really don’t see why some people have this need to control how other people present themselves.

    1. TL

      I think it’s a different situation if you’re in a customer service job (which it sounds like was part of the job?). A lot of people can take shy for standoffish or snobbish and I can see being worried about how that comes across to customers. Especially since many people get really offended if they go into a store and no employee comes up and asks if they can be of help. (vs. coworkers, where you really just need to be accessible for questions and polite enough to maintain a pleasant workplace.)
      That being said, if customer service is a big part of the job, that’s something you should screen for in the interviews.

      1. Natalie

        Maire doesn’t say she was shy with customers, though, just co-workers. If the boss was concerned about her treatment of customers, he should have observed it and then discussed the customer issue with her.

        And for whatever it’s worth, I absolutely HATE being approached by CSRs while shopping and I have never met anyone who was offended that no one approached them to ask if they could help. As long as there are enough employees and they are easy to spot if the store is big, leave me alone, please!

        1. TL

          Really? I’ve heard quite a few “I was in that store for 20 minutes and not one person asked if I needed help, so I left.” Usually by people who go into a store and need help – either because they’re unfamiliar/uncomfortable with the store (young-middle aged people here) or because spending 20 minutes looking for one item or navigating unfamiliar places is difficult for them (my older relatives here).

          My guess is the boss was extrapolating “If she can’t be outgoing and super extra friendly with coworkers, than how can I trust her with customers?” and I think he was (badly!) trying to let her know that he needed to see customer service skills behind the scenes before he could let her out on the floor. It doesn’t sound like he handled it well at all, but I can understand his reasoning. (Whether or not it’s fair reasoning, I don’t know. I’ve never managed a customer service position.)

          1. Natalie

            Huh, very strange. I live in a state renowned for being passive-aggressive (Minnesota Nice!) but I’ve never heard of anyone leaving a store because they weren’t greeted or feeling that they couldn’t just walk up to an employee and ask where the chocolate teapots are. Granted, a lot of my friends and relatives are extroverted, but I am fairly introverted and never found approaching an employee uncomfortable.

          2. Kelly L.

            I think a lot of is is socioeconomic. We talked on here a few weeks ago about how people responded differently to work, authority, etc. depending on the circumstances they grew up in.

            I will say, having been a poor kid, that when someone approaches me in a store, my first instinctive reaction is a combination of fear and indignation. That’s not to say I’m actually rude to the person, but my lizard brain immediately jumps to “S/he thinks I’m here to steal,” because when i was fourteen or so, that was why salespeople would hover over me. I never stole but was often “profiled” due to my age and dress, and it was pretty obvious. It’s hard to shake that even though I’m in my thirties and better dressed now.

            Whereas, I think people who grew up with money are accustomed to being attended upon, and so their instinctive reaction to in-your-face salespeople is to assume they are there to serve them.

            1. TL

              Socioeconomic factors are probably a big part (most people I’m heard grew up middle-class, upper middle class or if they were poor, it was in the Depression and they were generally white.)

              Although I wouldn’t classify “Hi, can I help you today?” “No, thanks.” “Okay, just let me know if I can.” as in your face, which is what I would find normal from a salesperson. (As long as it’s not every person in the store every five minutes.)

              Another factor: if you’re going, say, to buy a computer, but you don’t know anything about computers and you feel kind of dumb/intimidated for knowing nothing, this conversation: “Hi, can I help you?” “I need a computer.” “Okay, for home or office?…Well this one is popular. Are you going to be doing X, Y, or Z?…” can be a lot less embarrassing than “Hi, I need a computer but I don’t know anything about them or what I want or need. Can you help me?” I don’t think many people care at the grocery store but when it comes to more specialized purchases it can be quite helpful.

              1. Kelly L.

                The trouble is that sometimes it is every person in the store, every five minutes. You can’t take two steps without another person appearing out of the woodwork, usually acting HUGELY excited (which can startle you in and of itself), and when you get to the counter and they ask “who helped you” you feel like you need to rattle off a laundry list. I know it’s corporate policy but it’s still annoying.

                And worst of all is when it’s pretty clear that you’re doing something “wrong” but you can’t figure out what it is. I once got approached by the same saleswoman about ten different times while shopping in a really small store, and her tone was increasingly snippy, and finally I just asked if I was doing something wrong. Not my politest moment, but still. She then informed me that the part of the shop I was browsing in was not self-serve and I was not supposed to look at those items without her assistance. This area was in no way demarcated or set apart from anything else, mind you; this was just several racks of clothing that were arbitrarily not self-serve for no real reason. It was the third time someone had been snotty to me in that store and I have not been back.

                1. TL

                  Dear god, that’s unreasonable and pushy and horrible. I tend to get 1 inquiry/20-30 minutes in the store (that’s if I’m switching sections) and I find that reasonable. Maybe it’s a cultural thing? I live in Texas and for the most part I get a smile and a quick inquiry and am then left alone. (And honestly, most of the inquiries come if I’m staring intently at a product.) I also have a slightly angry look when I’m relaxed or concentrating, though.

                2. Rana

                  That sounds like someone who works on commission and who won’t get properly paid unless your purchase was something she helped with. Not that it excuses the rudeness, of course.

                3. NewReader

                  I guess you were supposed to use your ESP to figure out that area was not self-serve, Kelly?
                  Sigh.
                  I went into a store- a Christmas store, I think. There was lots of stuff and a variety of price ranges. I saw one more expensive item that the woman had obviously made because it was so unique. I made the mistake of asking her how she made that. It was part curiosity, part just making conversation. She said “Well if I tell you how I made it, then you will make it yourself and I will lose money.”

                  She lost money anyway. I bought nothing. I left within a few minutes of her remark. I have never gone back. Some businesses almost beg their customer, “Pleeease LEAVE, NOW.”

                  Reflecting on that – My leaving was an act of mercy for that woman.

            2. Emily

              SOOO this!

              I actively avoid shopping at stores with aggressive salespeople. You’re all wearing uniforms, I can tell you work for the store, if I need help I’ll ask you for it. Otherwise, please let me shop in peace! I am a type who lives a lot inside my own head and it’s jarring and disruptive to my shopping to have to keep “coming out” to say, “Yes, thank you,” as every employee in the store approaches me and asks, “Are you finding everything alright?” presumably because their manager will penalize them for failing to do so. If I wasn’t finding what I needed, I would be asking for help, not standing in front of a shelf comparing items.

              I think another reason I dislike being approached by salespeople is because it makes me feel more pressure to make a purchase when I might be just browsing or comparison shopping. There are a couple of local shops that have cute clothes that I pretty much never go into because as soon as I do the owner is all up on me trying to help me find something and I feel like I’ve slighted her or wasted her time when I leave without buying anything. (Not that I think the owner feels that way–it’s my own hangup.)

              And like you, I absolutely can’t shake the impression, leftover from my teenage years, that I’m being watched as a potential shoplifter despite the incredibly slim possibility that that’s the case these days.

              1. Natalie

                “I think another reason I dislike being approached by salespeople is because it makes me feel more pressure to make a purchase when I might be just browsing or comparison shopping.”

                I suspect this is why it’s such a popular rule in big chain stores.

                1. Rana

                  What’s ironic is that if you leave me be to browse, I’ll frequently end up buying more stuff. If you hustle me right to what I want and then off to the register, I won’t.

                  On the flip side, it is annoying when you do need help and everyone either vanishes or is already busy.

              2. Kelly L.

                Yeah, this too. I feel like, if they’re really attentive, it becomes “rude” to not buy, and then I get angry that I’m being pushed into feeling obligated.

              3. Kelly O

                Okay, I do too. And I will just leave if I feel like I’m getting pressure.

                I also especially dislike this during the lunch hour – there are lots of stores around my office and lots of times at lunch I go wander around the mall for a while to kill the rest of my lunch break.

                I really dislike having someone come up to me every three to five minutes, following their script, asking me if I know the latest about that gadget I’m eyeballing, or that pair of shoes I just paused to look at.

                (And I get it. I work in retail and I see the memos that go out to our stores, and I fight the urge to send my own message – seriously if you guys do this you will drive your “guests” bonkers. I really wish if you say once “I’m just looking, thanks” that would be enough. Conversely, if I ask you for help, I hope you know enough to actually help. Not leave me standing there twenty minutes until someone else wanders up to ask if I need help.)

      2. Maire

        Well, as Natalie below said, he really didn’t know how I would be with customers, he was basing it on the coworkers thing. And the reason that I was shy with coworkers was cos they were all in a big group and didn’t make outsiders feel welcome. I think it would have a been a lot different if I had actually been able to deal with customers, instead of being made to feel like I was being shoved in the back out of sight. In fact, I know it would have been different as I have gone on to do other customer service jobs and have had no bother interacting with them.
        And regardless, I was 15 yrs old and my personality was still developing. If he wanted someone uber confident and bubbly, maybe he shouldn’t have hired a 15yr old school girl

  19. Jeanne

    I was once told on a review I had to “work more happily”. When I pushed for specifics, one thing was about saying hi to my dept coworkers in the hall. So I made sure I did every time but they wouldn’t respond to me. So I stopped. The moral of the story for me was that some people are jerks.

    1. Bridgette

      “Work more happily?” I got an image in my head of someone clacking away on a keyboard in an elaborate manner with a huge open-mouth smile and cheery Disney tunes playing in the background.

      1. TL

        Disney songs playing? Heck, I would’ve started singing them and dancing around the office. There’re tons of Disney Working Hard is Fun songs!

      2. Claire

        Your comment made my day, as I immediately got an image of Goofy at a computer with the happy Disney music playing in the background. I actually laughed out loud. ;-D

    2. LL

      “Work more happily?” For some reason that makes me think of Office Space and the restaurant manager criticizing Joanna for not wearing enough pieces of flair.

      1. yetanotheranon

        office space can only be watched on friday nights. otherwise you don’t have enough time to recover from the soul crushing depression that enuses when you realize that it *is* your life you are watching, flair and all :)

  20. Anon

    Shyness can be a big limitation.

    We had a temp who was so shy she couldn’t verbally ask the person at the front desk to click open the locked door for her. She would just stand there awkwardly while the front desk person got annoyed for someone hovering in their work space. (Every normal employee has a badge, so it’s not a natural thing to let people in unless they ask)

    She ended up getting let go early while another temp stayed a month extra. She was simply too shy to get things done quickly or efficiently. Team work is an important skill.

    Just telling this story for all the realllly shy people – it’s a skill that can and should be worked on. However, I don’t think the OP’s temp sounds this shy – as long as it’s not hurting her work, it really doesn’t matter.

    1. Commenting Anonymously for This

      Hmmm… I wonder if that’s social anxiety disorder… It’s something I suffer from and I always, always had issues with things like that because I was so terrified that people would judge me negatively for anything I said.

      That said-It is definitely something that can be improved with time and effort. I went through therapy and I’m much, much better at, well, talking to people. The anxiety doesn’t go away completely, but it’s much more manageable now.

  21. Jen

    It is not a requirement to say hi in the hallways at work, but pleasantries are generally a good idea to make everyone’s day go a little better. This is human nature. A person in a temp position should realize they need to do everything they can to be likeable, for people to want to keep them around, and to get good recommendations in order to be employable. This includes maintaining pleasantries.

    As a manager, if there is any kind of strife between two people I generally see if I can steer the complainer in the direction of working it out with the person they’re complaining about before I would ever intervene (unless there is something potentially illegal or in the realm of “harrassment” going on). It is very often as simple as learning to ignore questionable behavior, or being that much more friendly, but getting a third person involved with a “he said, she said” very often invites trouble.

    1. JT

      Or give advice as coaching, not as a reprimand. It may be hard to position it as such, but if you can I think that’d be great. I had someone give me advice about eye contact when I was a young intern, and that was very helpful, though a little disturbing at the time.

  22. Anonymous

    Sorry to go off topic, but if there’s any readers from the UK I would be grateful for a bit of advice. I went for my first interview for 8 years the other day and when I got back home wrote a short thank you email to the team, picking up on a couple of key points from the interview.

    I then mentioned the thank you email to a friend who was borderline appalled that I’d sent an email saying that she’d never done it, never heard of it being done and if she’d received a thank you she would consider it strange.

    Do you think the culture in the UK means thank you emails are out of place?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Hi Anonymous, I actually try to keep the threads on-topic here (which I know some sites don’t), but you could try posting this in the next open thread, where any topic is welcomed!

  23. Jonathan

    I have worked in many organizations, usually big Fortune 500 companies. What I have observed is that most workers feel they don’t have to be friendly and say hi whenever they pass someone they are not acquainted with in the hallway. This is the philosophy that I have adopted too. It is weird to pass someone in the hallway and both people pretend not to see each other. But I believe this is a company culture issue. I think if the company promotes a friendlier workplace, people will be more willing to open up and be nice to each other.

    1. Jamie

      I understand what you’re saying – that it would be friendlier to you – but I think this is an important point.

      It’s not like I’d quit over having to say hello to people, I do it all the time. But a work environment where there is this expectation of social interaction, however minimal, just because you happen to be in physical proximity is not conducive to a friendlier or nicer work environment for me, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

      What one person considers opening up and being nicer to each other feels is irrelevant at best and an annoyance much of the time to other people. Even intrusive depending on what you mean by people opening up. Believe me, I wish people would be way less open about some personal stuff at work. Some things you just can’t unknow, once you know them.

      And again – I’m not picking on you – I just thought your comment was a perfect illustration of what I think some people just don’t understand and that’s what is social, warm, and friendly to one person can be very uncomfortable for another.

      And as Susan Cain so brilliantly pointed out in her TED speech, our society is set up to see extroverted norms as acceptable and deviations from that are somehow less okay…and we’d all be happier if there wasn’t a “good” and a “bad” way of being.

      1. Anon

        I think there’s a reasonable middle ground though. The workplace isn’t always friendly to super-extroverted people (or at least a lot of workplaces aren’t) because at most workplaces, there’s an awful lot of time where you’re sitting quietly working, and really should be. I don’t think anyone should be told to smile and say hello in the hallways, but as a social convention, it seems like a reasonable middle ground between “We’re all chatting away while we work and compromising productivity” and “we’re not really acknowledging each other except when we have to.” And since we have to set the social conventions somewhere, I think that’s not a bad place to do it, even if it means some people will end up interacting more than they like and others will feel a little ignored that people aren’t stopping to ask them about their day/work/life.

      2. Anonymous

        Right, but I think Jonathan’s point is that it’s about culture/fit. Just like any other important aspect of your company’s culture, if you’re annoyed by people saying hi and find it intrusive while the majority of the company/its culture sees that as common courtesy, then you’re a bad fit for that company/culture. (General “you” here.)

  24. JT

    There are so many different expectations of greetings that it’s not worth getting worked up about. I’d say that giving someone advice to be more overtly in the interests of helping their career is nice. Giving the same advice because you think they are denying you respect by not greeting you is obnoxious.

    For the introvert readers who are wary of saying hi to stranger, especially senior people at your own organizations: I think it’d be good for you to get over that. Just say “Hi” or give a respectful nod of recognition to people like that. I think that’s a good habit and might help you in life. You’ll be better at small talk and even real talk with such people if you’re not afraid of interacting with them.

    I actually was walking down the street and recognized the Secretary General of the UN walking past me one day and just nodded hello at him and he nodded right back!

    I have to mention that this story reminds me of a dorm I lived in in college, where a large number of people were pretty arrogant and would simply look right through other people ignore them. Some friends and I had a name for this – an “Adams House hello” meant blanking someone.

    1. Natalie

      Not quite on the same scale, but the mayor of my reasonably sized city and I apparently have a lot of interests in common and I work pretty close to city hall, so I see him all.the.time and usually say hi because it amuses me.

  25. fposte

    If this were a company where high sociability was reeeally important for success, then it might be worth mentioning this to the new hire (though not saying “Gladys has complained”) and giving her some specific ideas for ways she could demonstrate that she’s cool with that. She can decide for herself if it’s worth it or not.

    But it actually sounds like a normal workplace with somebody whose nose is somewhat out of joint. In that case I’d do what you’re doing–not bother to pass the weirdness along.

  26. Amouse

    When in the past I have assumed it was a personal affront that an introvert didn’t say hello it always came back to my somehow discovering it was actually my problem of being too sensitive. I suspect some extroverts are too quick to assume as well. That being said there are jerks who just snub people for various reasons but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
    True jerkiness for me would be the customers I’d encounter as a 19 year old cashier who would be standing right in front of me for five minutes after I’d said hello and was processing their groceries acting like there wasn’t someone in front of them. To me that was plain jerkiness. I don’t care how introverted they were.

    1. Jamie

      Regarding your last paragraph – even I agree that’s rude. There is no excuse for not returning a greeting once one is offered.

      However, (and I’m not excusing it, but offering a rational) it can sometimes be self-defense. I say hello to the cashier at the grocery store and don’t have a problem with light pleasantries…but there is one whose line I will avoid at all costs because it’s a running conversation about the kind of conditioner I’m buying, her financial struggles, did my kids have braces, where do I get my nails done, how she can’t afford to get her nails done, her divorce, etc.

      If it’s late and she’s the only one there – damn right I’m nodding hello while completely engrossed in my phone call which doesn’t have anyone on the other line.

      It can be the same at work – a hello isn’t a big deal but there are always those outliers who will take any interaction at all into a hijack to unload all their work problems which were never important enough to email me about, or come see me, but are top priority if you catch me on the way to the bathroom, making coffee, or rushing to a meeting.

      Sometimes it’s a defense mechanism – the rotten ones ruining it for everyone else.

      1. Amouse

        I know what you mean. I think a lot of these issues can be neutralized by both extroverts and introverts observing each other and trying to find a happy medium. If someone says hello and then promptly looks down at their shoes or looks hurried it would be poor people-reading skills to then assault them with an hour-long monologue about life’s trials and tribulations. Speaking of which, people who have one-sided conversations are a whole other can of worms. The funniest thing is two one-sided conversationalists trying to have a conversation and talking over each other.

  27. Zee

    At my job, some people will say hello to my coworker or manager and not to me. I’m not trying to stand on ceremony, but it does seem to be a little rude when I’m standing right next to my coworker/manager and they get a “Hey Adam, how are you this morning?” It’s a different story if I was on the other side of the work area and not near the person receiving the salutations. But I let it roll off my back and return the same salutation – none!

  28. Anon

    I don’t judge anyone for not saying hi when you pass them in the hall (though I usually try to at least smile and nod, because why not). But I do think it’s a good idea for bosses to say hi to their subordinates when they pass them. I work for one guy who never acknowledges anyone and it consistently leaves new hires wondering what they did wrong. Eventually they figure out he’s just pathologically averse to saying hi to people (or otherwise acknowledging their existence in the hallway), but why put people who work for you through that when you can just cut it off by saying hi?

  29. Maria

    Introvert here, although also a good worker! I don’t understand the emphasis workplaces place on extroverts. I was told at a prior job that someone perceived me as “unfriendly”, someone I thought I was actually very friendly to. I did not want to get into trouble making small talk in the halls, not to mention that I just don’t have the personality to do so.

  30. LMW

    When I was in middle school, I actually had a volunteer position at a nursing home where all employees and volunteers were required to greet everyone they passed in the hall (smile and say hello, say the name if you know it). So if I were walking down the hall, and it was near lunch time and all the residents were starting to parade to the cafeteria I’d be like “Hi, Peter! Hi, Myrtle! Hi Dr. Rodgers! Hi, Flo!” etc. It was actually a great way to make sure that the residents were well cared for–you could tell right away if someone was having an off day, and they all felt comfortable asking anyone for anything because everyone talked to them.

    1. Your Mileage May Vary

      As someone who spent a lot of time in a nursing home with my grandmother, I think this is a beautiful policy.

  31. Rosemarine

    As an introvert who has worked some temp jobs, my philosophy has always been that I’m being paid to work, not socialize (though I try to be pleasant in my normal interactions with others, and that usually seems to be received positively). Saying hello in the hallways is one thing, but being chatty in the kitchen (or around the water-cooler, etc.) is different, since one can easily end up in a long conversation about non-work stuff. I’ve seen full-time employees spend a lot of time talking about non-work matters in some of my workplaces. If that works for them, fine, but if I’m there as a temp, my assumption is that if I did the same, there would be some major negative repercussions for me. Any time that a superior sees me talking and not working is one time too many.

  32. Anon

    I’ll freely admit that I’m extroverted and love that atmosphere. One of my biggest office pet peeves has to do with people not saying hello/acknowledging your presence in the office. I’m not talking about the people you see everyday, although I do think the least you can do is smile. That hurts no one.

    I work at an off-site location. I have two types of people come to my building. Group 1: People who are based at my building but travel most of the time. Group 2: People who work at HQ but come here for meetings or quiet space to get stuff done. Both groups frequently don’t speak to anyone when they come in. This is annoying because…

    Group 1: We are all extroverts. Need to be in this job. We always talk about personal stuff, so that’s not a part of the issue. We work for the same people. At the very least, let me know you are here so that if the building is burning down I’ll know who all needs to be rescued. If I don’t know you are here, I’ll let the building burn down with you in it.

    Group 2: If I come and use your space, or walk by your office. I throw up a hand in greeting or smile. I say thank you for the space/time etc. Why is it so hard to return that favor? We all work for the same big department. It’s not like we are strangers.

    I know there’s the whole shy or introverted factor. I get that, I really do. I was terribly shy in high school and early college. It took work and putting myself in really uncomfortable situations but I changed that and it opened a lot of doors for me.

    It may not be fair but working is often more about who you know than what you know. And if you never speak to anyone, you won’t know anyone. End rant.

    1. Jamie

      although I do think the least you can do is smile. That hurts no one.

      Maybe not, but not being smiled at doesn’t hurt you either.

      I wouldn’t worry about the safety issue. If the company was concerned with keeping tabs about who was in and out of the building at any given time they’d have people swipe. And you do know they are there, because you noticed that they didn’t say hello. And if you don’t know they are there, you can’t possibly be held accountable for their deaths in case of fire – that would be the most haphazard safety protocol ever! :)

    2. Joey

      If one of your biggest job gripes is people not reciprocating pleasantries you’re really too sensitive.

      And actually Im a bit surprised that this topic was worthy of 150+ comments. Can’t everyone just accept that there are extroverts AND introverts at work without letting it bother you? It’s actually a good thing to have a mix. Otherwise no one would ever talk or the chatter would be so deafening youd never be able to get a word in.

    3. LMW

      I was actually thinking about the safety aspect of saying hello after I wrote the comment about my experience at the nursing home. Part of the reason they did was safety–since it was policy to say hello to everyone, every time you saw them, you quickly got to know who belonged and who didn’t (at least visually) and roughly where in the sprawling facility people usually were–that could be really helpful in recognizing something out of place.
      I do a lot of running, usually alone, and sometimes on trails. I ALWAYS say hi to people on the trails–it’s a safety consideration. People are more likely to remember you (and you them) if you make eye contact and say hello. Something I learned in a college self-defense class. So if I don’t come home for my run because I tripped over a log, sprained my ankle and have no cell phone signal, there’s a better chance someone will remember when and where they saw me.

  33. sam.i.am

    I’m an extrovert, but I’m also fairly reserved. I’m a big one for the “smile and nod” when I encounter a coworker. I want to be open and approachable enough so that if a coworker feels like they need to come to me, they think they can. It’s also so that if I’m under the gun and speedwalking down the hallway with fire in my eyes, they know it’s not my normal demeanor (even though it is!).

    I also try to think about puppies when I’m just wandering around, so that I have a generally pleasant look on my face. Because, again, the default is deranged intensity.

  34. Steve G

    huge pet peave at 2 companies I worked at? People I started to chit chat with but didnt know well. You’d have one conversation maybe once every few months but then would “have” to say hello 2-5 times a day in the hall/day. It was an ackward amount of “hellos” compared to real conversations.

  35. Ariancita

    I see a difference here in the comments from people who are introverted and/or shy who feel drained or awkward greeting anyone, or they blank out, are in their own head, focused, distracted, and so it just doesn’t occur to them. Or they’ve given their quota of the day and the most they can muster is a small, exhausted, half smile. I think a lot of extroverts can read that properly. But then I see other introverts saying that being given a casual greeting is an annoyance and intrusive. That comes off as standoffish and may hurt your career where in most cases, a modicum of networking and politeness is important. In the U.S., we do put emphasis on common courtesy in all areas of public life (“please,” “thank you,” etc).

    Also, lots of extrovert slamming here. We are not needy or “THEM,” we just have an easier time observing those particular cultural norms.

    1. Ariancita

      I add the “In the U.S.” because I know that lots of international folks find our custom of politeness overbearing or weird. It’s not the norm in many other countries. :)

    2. Jamie

      “But then I see other introverts saying that being given a casual greeting is an annoyance and intrusive.”

      I don’t think anyone said that being given a greeting was either of those things. And I didn’t take away from this that anyone was opposed to returning a greeting – of course that’s just polite.

      But when it comes to the question of being judged for not issuing greetings ourselves – that’s where the problem is. Speaking for myself, I’m not not saying hello to Jane as I pass her in the hall. I’m walking down the hall and am in my own head and I’m just not thinking about her, I probably didn’t even notice her.

      If it’s considered rude not to issue greetings, that’s where we would have to modify our behavior for the benefit of those who take it personally – when it couldn’t be less personal.

      1. Ariancita

        I swear I’m not picking on you, Jamie, but actually, you were one who said this:

        “What one person considers opening up and being nicer to each other feels is irrelevant at best and an annoyance much of the time to other people. Even intrusive depending on what you mean by people opening up.”

        But perhaps that’s not what you meant. :)

        1. Jamie

          That was in response to Jonathan’s post saying (in part) What I have observed is that most workers feel they don’t have to be friendly and say hi whenever they pass someone they are not acquainted with in the hallway.

          And yes, I think a culture where people feel like they have to say hi and be friendly to people with whom they aren’t acquainted would be an annoyance to me.

          And yes, I have had co-workers open up about their personal lives, or even opinions, in a way I felt was invasive. I don’t need to know about just anyone’s sex lives, political opinions, or problems urinating…all things I’ve heard discussed in the lunch room as I was just trying to grab a cup of coffee.

          1. Jamie

            Hit submit too soon – I meant to add none of the above precludes returning a nod or hello from someone in the hall. Of course people should be polite.

            1. Ariancita

              LOL! I don’t need to hear about it, but I think it’s absurdly funny when they over share. Although, have to say, no one has ever talked about urination problems with me in the workplace, and I work in medicine!

  36. I wish I could say

    This is really interesting to me because I consider myself a friendly person, yet I am quite introverted.
    That said, I think it’s just about the oddest thing ever when I walk past a coworker in the hallway and they don’t acknowledge me in any way. (Smile, nod, wave, roll their eyes, say “hi” – something!) I know I’m in the minority here, (and trust me, I am going to try to rethink my idea of what good manners are now . . .) but I just find it so bizarre.

    1. Ariancita

      I’m with you there. Some random person who works in the same office? Yeah, please don’t say hi to me. I’ve never met you. But a coworker? Yeah, it’s weird when they don’t acknowledge in any way (unless they’re in their heads–I can usually spot that).

  37. Just another

    It depends on:
    1. Where the temp. (now permanent) co-worker is located, and if the office is an open-structured plan
    2. How the now perm. co-worker interacts otherwise

    1. If she’s located centrally, or in the open, where everyone has to pass her all the time to get to another place, it puts a little more burden on her. If she has a lot of face contact like that, saying “hi” and acknowledging everyone’s presence all the time can get tiring, but never saying “hi” or acknowledging them, can be seen as snubbing them.

    I still haven’t figured this one out, yet. I just mirror other people until I figure out a better method – if someone is friendly and always like to touch and go, I return that and always be sure to smile and say “hi” or roll my eyes or whatever is appropriate to their own action. If someone tends to be in their own worlds and always makes it a point to speed walk by, I keep my head down and continue working. The hard ones are those that casually stroll by, but don’t seem particularly chatty or up to talk. LOL.

    2. I understand the whole hallway thing, but the kitchen thing is weird. I get that she’s a temp, but she can always just make small talk about the weather or family or something. If she’s friendly on an ongoing basis OUTSIDE of hallway interaction, people won’t be as offended. Like I wrote above, it can be seen as being snubbed if someone just refuses to acknowledge your presence.

    I was recently at a job interview, and I tried to smile at the receptionist, but she kept putting her head down. It was weird, because this was while we were interacting, but she’d always quickly kind of withdraw inward and put her head down. I just wanted to get her name and tell her to have a nice day! I don’t think I’d take it personally, but who knows, maybe after a year of her always putting her head down when I walk by her, it might be different. I’d also tell the OP the same thing the other co-worker did (if I were in the position to do so), because someone else might take it the wrong way.

  38. Mishsmom

    i had a supervisor actually call a meeting with me and tell me that someone had asked her if i was feeling okay that day because they had noticed that i wasn’t as cheery as usual – not uncheery, mind you, just not AS cheery as usual (i’m beginning to hate this word). i worked in a reception area with people constantly walking in and out while answering phones and doing the rest of my job (happily, i might add!) and this person (i found out later) casually mentioned that i had not seemed as “cheery” as i usually am so this supervisor felt it was a good reason to call a meeting and tell me that i needed to be consistently cheery (i am not kidding). in my entire admin career of over 20 years, this is the only time anyone ever said anything even close to negative about my attitude or anything having to do with it. needless to say i was not sad when she retired (how lucky am i that she retired! :))

    1. Mishsmom

      oops, my point was (short story long) is that i’m an introvert and i put on my party face for work. you can’t expect someone to be saying hi or be involved in how others might perceive you all the time – one has to get work done too…

  39. Michelle

    Early in my career (early as in Day 2), I was on the receiving end of a “you’re not friendly enough” speech, except it wasn’t put very nicely. The GM came up to me and said “I’ve heard some good things and some bad things about you…..” and continued on from there. I was 21, shy, and had no clue how an office environment worked. I like to observe others before jumping in and I like to have my thoughts and arguments on a subject figured out before I speak. I’m not a “think out loud” person. I didn’t recognize this stuff about myself at 21 and I was still learning the technical aspects of my job on Day 2…only to be told by a high level manager that I wasn’t “fitting in”? It made me question if I was cut out for the job and I wanted to die of embarrassment.

    However you decide to handle this, I’d suggest to proceed with caution. If you find that the temp is truly unfriendly after working with her for a few weeks, make sure to point it out in a helpful, mentorship-oriented kind of way (like AAM suggested).

  40. sophylou

    I’m an extrovert and I do NOT want to have to say hello to everyone, neither do I feel a need to have everyone say hello to me. (Maybe because I’m not a morning person?) Believe it or not, some extroverts aren’t into small talk (me!) — my extroversion is much more about talking through projects and enjoying collaborative work.

    It’s been my experience that people who get really bent out of shape about this kind of thing are concerned about their own status in some way.

  41. Lisa

    I had a funny experience at a client. I was at this client making xerox copies of invoices where they paid sales tax and they shouldn’t have. The office was small and they only had one Xerox machine. The Manager of office equipment office was outside the Xerox machine. Every morning I came in I’d say “Hi!” and he’d mumble about the reams of paper I was using and the wear and tear of the machine. I called my manager on that and she said “Tell him we’ll reimburse him for the paper and if the machine breaks, we will buy him a new machine.” Harumph was his reply. Big ol grump!

    Anyways, it was his birthday one day while I was there and they ladies in the office brought in a cake and I was invited to join the “birthday break”. I probably wouldn’t have done it but the ladies and I always had a nice little exchange when they came in to make a copy of something.

    I joined them in the cafeteria, and the grumpy birthday guy came in after I joined the ladies. We sang Happy Birthday and he actually smiled! I said to him, “you need some milk” with that! I bought him a couple of little cartons of milk from the vending machine and said “Happy Birthday”. After that, the remainder of my tenure at the client, he always said “Hi” to me when I arrived and “Have a nice evening” when he left (I stayed later than he did). That was a super pleasant surprise! :)

      1. Steve G

        DILBERT IS MY FAVORITE! But 1989 as recent as it is in our heads still wasn’t exactly yesterday so it’s funny you still remember it:-)

  42. mh_76

    I’m too lazy to read all 255 comments so apologies if I repeat anything said above.

    You don’t have to say hi to everyone but do acknowledge their presence. Look them in the eyes briefly and, if you’re using a gadget while you walk, look up from it periodically, even only if to prevent you from walking into anyone and to give you a chance to acknowledge their existence. I’ll never understand what the allure of being incessantly “connected”, of walking & gadgeting (texting etc.) but…well, maybe I’m just old.

    1. Job Seeker

      I agree that it does come off so rude not to acknowledge others with a hello. I would not want anyone to think of me in such a way that I could not use politeness. A smile and good morning or hello might make someone’s day. Of course, I grew up in the South and we are taught this early.

    2. Cassie

      I try to acknowledge people’s presence – as you suggested, by looking at them in the eyes, and also have a smile or even just mouth the word “hi”. I’ve never been one of those people who call people by their names, like “Hi, Bill! Good morning, Ann!” so most of the time, a squeaky “hi” is all you’re going to get. (sometimes I wonder if people even hear my squeaky “hi” or if they think I just ignored them).

      But to tell someone to tell the temp to say hi in the hallway? That’s too much!

  43. AnonForThisOne

    I’m chilly and unfriendly: but I’v been harassed there about 5 times – two colleagues and three guards, one of which led to a recent formal proceeding – and finally decided my best defense was to stop smiling at people and saying hi.

    Besides after all that’s happened, I’m only there for the paycheck. I genuinely don’t like them anymore! One day, perhaps, I’ll find a job where I feel comfortable being me, but not this one…

    1. AnonForThisOne

      So my pint was that if the interns doing her work and is not problematic, the other co-worker should get a life.

  44. KP

    What about saying “good morning” to your office cube mates? I come in later than the two people who sit across from me in my cubicle and as an introvert, it does get annoying after some time that I always have to say good morning to them since I come in after they do and plus, I feel like I’m bothering them a bit when they are focusing on something. But then it feels awkward not to say anything at all.

  45. That Alice

    Do these people exist in some bizarro world where it’s perfectly normal for adults to act like children? Okay, fine, the coworker is so insecure she needs constant validation in the form of hallway acknowledgment, but for the sake of argument I can go along and pretend that this is a serious discussion about “workplace culture.” But really, if coworker has a problem with new coworker, perhaps s/he should talk to new coworker rather than go running to new manager. New manager/OP: don’t waste your time on this BS. It’s feeding a troll.

  46. MC

    At the office I used to work at, people are often out at clients, so it might be MONTHS before I see someone’s face again. So, in those cases (if we had some working relationship) we would usually say hi. Otherwise, it’s usually just the smile/nod that you give you people you don’t really know but can’t really look the other way unless you want to look into a wall. :)

    The person making the complaint is funny lol. Some people are very chatty and will go out of their way to introduce themselves…some won’t.

  47. Jamie

    A few minutes ago I was walking down the hall and thought of this thread when I passed someone I know, but don’t work with regularly.

    So as a social experiement I smiled and said hello.

    I got shot the weirdest look and then he said hello – and asked someone else if everything was okay. I was still in earshot.

    Clearly, I am not someone who should be greeting people except under very controlled conditions.

  48. Brenda

    After reading several comments about this subject I decided to chime in because I too had a problem with what I call the Hi Game and actually looked this topic up because someone in my office just complained about someone else who never says hello and so on. It seems to me that it is part of the responsibility of anyone at work to help create an atmosphere that is positive and comfortable. Saying hello or smiling at someone is the most basic of any human social inter-actions. If people are really thinking that class, race, seniority, prettiness or position dictates whether or not you say hello or not could not have had manners in their upbringing and are the thoughts of people I would say are quite shallow, lazy, complacent, and suspicious. Co-workers should create an atmosphere that makes them approachable. No one needs to greet everybody everyday all the time, sometimes just a smile or a head nod can make a moment pleasant. Yes, we are at times full of thought and can at times not see that someone is trying to greet or acknowledge you it happens but when people are playing the Hi Game, (if you say it first then I will kind-of-stuff) it becomes uncomfortable overtime to interact with that person at all. “Introverts” need to elevate their attempts at being polite and better at being social and extroverts need to know when to bring it down a bit. All in all it is about working in a place where these kind of innuendos do not turn into resentments and clicks in the office. Co-workers who stay aloof tend to be left out of decisions, tend to be left out of events and create an atmosphere around them that can be negative and then on the other side there are those who are way too much into talking and chatting and controlling social behaviors around the office and they too become left out. The point I am trying to make is just say hello when you see someone for the first time that day or week, be approachable, no one is working harder than anyone else, we are all at Work! So walking around like your thoughts and your actions are more important and more important enough that you can walk by and disregard simple manners can create a working atmosphere that is unpleasant. What’s so wrong about acknowledging your fellow human?

  49. olnol

    I just don’t understand how a simple greeting once in the day annoys people so much…Americans are so unfriendly and always act like you’re in the way even if you try to greet them.
    The poor excuses “i am shy” are BS…Americans seem to be lazy invididualistic people who just don’t like other people in their vicinity. Basic politeness is so annoying to them yet they can butt into any conversation that doesn’t involve them.
    Saying Hello is a simple basic thing… sorry you find it so annoying,

  50. Anonymous

    I think it was childish of your coworker to ask you to pass it on. She’s an adult, she can learn to express her own feelings to the people they apply to. People who want you to pass on their own hurtful thoughts, and weird requests need to be redirected to take their own action. Say something like “this doesn’t offend me, but it seems to offend you, so I suggest you talk to her about this. Thanks for stopping by.” (give it back to her politely but firmly. You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t sit right with you.)

Comments are closed.