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What to do when your greetings fall on deaf ears?

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Question: “I get joy out of saying good morning to co-workers. Not everyone is a morning person, but I think it’s rude not to acknowledge someone when they speak to you. What should I try to connect with the silent few who don’t respond?”   —Not a part of the furniture

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

J_Mo August 31, 2012 at 11:44 am

Here’s how I feel about it: I am a very moody person and am just not always that friendly; HOWEVER, I always, always acknowledge a greeting. Even if I’m not feeling cheerful, I will at the very minimum nod in response to a “hello” or a “good morning.”

I’m someone who prefers to have some boundaries and who tends to err on the side of not bothering other people, but I won’t be outright rude, and I DO appreciate the spirit in which such greetings are meant.

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Rich August 31, 2012 at 9:03 am

Being a non-morning person is not an excuse for poor manners. If getting up in the morning is so horrific, then maybe night work would be more to their liking. Moreover, it seems more and more everyday that someone tries to justify rude inappropriate behavour. Proper ettiquette dictates that when entering a workplace, the employee entering will greet his or her fellow workers first. Period. End of Story. Get used to it!

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Barbie M August 31, 2012 at 10:48 am

I so agree! I was just telling someone yesterday about this post and how some tried to justify their bad manners by calling out others who were only doing the proper thing! It’s a matter of courtesy to greet your coworkers. It’s not about “violating” someone’s space or attempting to validate your own existence. Geesh!

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Sunshine July 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Instead of trying to force a connection onto people who don’t want it (which is beyond rude, it is a violating their personal boundaries), you’d probably be better served to ask yourself why you are validation-seeking.
I love love love the morning, and come in bubbling over and joyful and so excited to be me and to be alive, and my co-workers come up to ME with sunny greetings because they want to get close to the energy of it. The ones that don’t….don’t, and actually I hadn’t even noticed the ones who didn’t until I read this question. We get along and cooperate throughout the work day, which seems like it would be miserable if I were harboring hard feelings and judgments about who said what or didn’t in the morning.
If you honestly want to “connect”, then put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you are a non-morning person, or someone immersed in thought, and someone with poor boundaries and approval-seeking behavior was trying to impose their morning high on you, when you didn’t want any part of it. When you see yourself through *their* eyes, then maybe you can cultivate an actual connection.

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Moonshine October 1, 2014 at 12:07 pm

“Poor boundaries and approval-seeking behavior”? That’s a REALLY interesting and convenient inversion of cultural norms, bordering on trollish. Saying hello to someone, especially someone you are bound to see for 40 hours a week, is among the most basic foundations of social etiquette. “Hello” or “Good morning” is the first step to “We will have a functional relationship”. When you answer the phone do you answer with “What is it?” No, like not (or actually maybe you do) because that would be incredibly rude. BTW you should probably never have children, because all of their need for “validation” and “attention-seeking behavior” in the form of needing hugs, food, medicine, etc., is going to really frustrate you.

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Sharon May 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Here’s another thought: it can be just as rude to take offense because someone doesn’t answer you politely too. Let it go! Say your hellos and be known for your courtesy but don’t let it bug you if you cannot control their responses. There have been times that I have been SO wrapped up in my own multi-tasking brain that I walked right past people with no acknowledgement – it had NOTHING to do with them. We have this in church sometimes – there are so many people to greet – it’s hard to say hello to every single person if you have things to do or places to get to or your kids are acting out or whatever. I think we should just give each other a break.

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Glenda May 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I agree, Sharon, and it goes right back to an earlier post by Sam, I think, – are you doing it to acknowledge someone else or to be acknowledged? If I say good morning and don’t get a response, so what, I feel like I did what was right for me. It doesn’t change the way I feel about myself or the way I feel about the person I said good morning to that did not respond for whatever reason. Some people need to focus all of their attention on what they are doing and dislike distractions. I can understand that and do not think they are being rude if they don’t respond.

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Mark May 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I had to chuckle to myself at your comment, “I have been SO wrapped up in my own multi-tasking brain that I walked right past people with no acknowledgement”. When I worked in a retail store, as I was walking down the center main aisle, my own mom was walking straight towards me, and even though I was looking forward, I didn’t even notice her! I was just that wrapped up in concentrating on the task i was about to do. I am often like that; I just have my blinders on and don’t notice what is being said around me, including the morning “good morning” greetings. I know it comes off as rude to others, but I don’t think I’m being rude if I truly don’t realize what they are saying.

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Sherry May 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

I find if I say good morning to someone and I “use their first name” then I tend to get a response. If I don’t get a response I continue to say good morning to them “using their name”, every time I see them in the morning and I make sure to smile. Eventually one day they will say good morning. Sometimes it may take a bit of patience.

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Zeda May 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm

The impression you make starts with the greeting you give to people. It’s their first opportunity to assess your personality, your demeanor and your manners but if you work in an office this is your place of employment. It does not mattter if your are a morning person or not. Its all about formaliy and some corporations can get you fired if you are rude and always have that “unhappy” personality. Your first impression of you course gets alot of attention and perhaps promotion. If you are always the type to be rude and unapproachable then there goes making allies and determining who would even consider you for any promotion. The morale of this story is proper ettiqutte does not take your whole life’s worth of misery. Just be approachable and acknowlege back and you don’t have to be so negetative about not responding back. Just be greatful that people have a place to go to work. Enjoy your life.

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Lisa May 25, 2012 at 9:07 am

Well said Zeda.

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Leah M May 24, 2012 at 11:32 am

I agree that it is only common courtesy to at least acknowledge the person who has “greeted” you. And, it doesn’t have to take any time to do so since you can speak while still walking. I have worked with a number of people who have left the office for a meeting and/or the evening who do not let me know. I feel they put me in a difficult situation since I am usually the person that someone else would come to to ask where a co-worker is. If I don’t know where the team member is that has left, it is embarrassing since they didn’t let me know and I am put in a position where I can’t help a “customer.” So, I do believe it is a common courtesy, but I also believe there are some compelling business reasons to acknowledge each others presence. Teams are organic and

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Leah M May 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

Teams are organic and if one individual’s actions impact the entire team.

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J_Mo July 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm

My team members RARELY tell me where they are going. It’s the worst when someone from the outside–a consultant, a client, a job applicant–comes in!

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g May 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Now in response to the Good Night or have a Good Weekend (I have to say I don’t agree with this). Only because when it’s time to clock out I want to leave I don’t want to take the extra time to say good night or have a good weekend.
Part of this too is because when I first started we told each other where we were going all the time (we have 3 offices for our department – one of them had 2 people in it). I did it because it’s common courtesy and because we have a lot of land with 4 buildings and multiple floors in each. But I honestly felt like I had to tell my babysitter where I was going and what I was doing.
So I feel sort of the same about saying good night or good weekend (like by the way I’m leaving now, just in case you didn’t realize that’s it’s 4:30 and I leave at 4:30 and I’m a grown adult thanks.) Now if I see my team face to face before I leave I say good bye.
Since I was able to pick up full time I created little signs for each of stating that we went to “such and such building” “or to lunch” that way we don’t have to feel like we have to tell someone. We can just hang it up by our door.

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Mark May 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

There is one kind of situation where we make it mandatory to say “good night”. At night, if someone is leaving but one person is left in the building, the leaving person has to make a point to make the remaining person know they are now alone in the building. 99.999% of the time we know when there are only a couple of us left in the building, so the leaving person saying “Good night” lets the other person know that they are by themselves. That gives them the option of either A) Leaving, too, since some hate being alone in the building, or B) Staying but be more aware of the surroundings and sounds, for security purposes.

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Gloria May 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I’m referring to if someone says this to you or directly to a few people, then gets completely ignored. Etiquette seems to be a lost art nowadays.

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bb May 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm

When someone doesn’t respond to “Good morning”, I add a “or not” to my greeting. Yeah, it’s a little confrontational (though I say it in a joking manner). One time, a guy actually stopped in his tracks, turned around and apologized. He said, “I’m so sorry, I’m just usually in my own little world!” I bet that’s true of a lot of people. I don’t let it bother me anymore. I figure they’re either hard of hearing or just far away daydreaming. =)

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Mark May 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Technically they don’t have to say “good night’, but that’s pretty much what we all do as the way to tell the last person that they are indeed last.

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Mark May 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Oops. That went under the wrong one, but I can’t figure out how to delete a post, and this reCAPTCHA thing is driving me insane. Sorry.

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Gloria May 21, 2012 at 8:31 am

This also brings down the morale of the office. That is the #1 complaint I heard when we had a change in management – not saying hello or acknowledging their hello…or good night…or have a nice weekend. It hits harder when it comes from management.

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Melissa May 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Maybe try something that more obviously requests a response? Like, “Good morning–how are you?”

I agree–it’s rude not to return the greeting.

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Gloria May 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I experienced this, as well. My response was to take my greetings to the extreme.

After a couple of months of receiving the no-acknowledgement-to-my-existence when I said, “Morning”, I decided to change my approach, which I figured would irk them just as much as they irked me with their lack of etiquette.

The very next morning, and every morning after that, I would purposely come in with a really big toothy grin…think comical here…and give an exaggerated happy…and really loud…, “GOOD MORNIN!”, while I kept walking to my desk.

At first, I didn’t get anything back.

After a couple of weeks, odd looks.

A month, a smirk.

Two – three months later, a genuine smile and a good morning back!

Every day since then, I would do the same thing and received a sincere greeting back from them. This continued for years until they recently left the firm.

Even if it didn’t work in the begining and they didn’t respond, it still made me laugh inside.

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Gloria May 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Follow up to my comment:

Kill em with kindness. Grouchy people hate that!

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Patty May 22, 2012 at 10:08 am

Touche Gloria – been there, done that! It does work.

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g May 18, 2012 at 11:47 am

I’m not a morning person but I force myself to greet people any time of the day because I feel it’s rude if you don’t. I don’t get bent out of shape if they don’t response but I feel if you are a supervisor or director you need to acknowledge everyone (people are looking to you for answers – so greet them back). We have a director at my job who rarely greets others.

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Debbie May 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

I worked in an office which was extremely stressful. I would come in each morning with a “good morning” and get the response “what’s so good about it?”. I wanted to say “we are all alive and breathing”, but I said notthing, at some point I simply stopped saying anything. I would walk in, go to my desk and begin my day. I wasn’t expecting a response in fact no response would have been so much better than what I got.. This set the mood for the entire day, needless to say I began looking for a job that appreciated me a lot more and was a lot less stressful. (not to mention much better pay). I’m not necessarily a ‘morning’ person, but I feel that if you start your day positive and uplifted that it can change the way you feel.

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Lori May 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

I think at the heart of the issue is just plain old common courtesy. When someone speaks to you, acknowledge them. You don’t have to carry on a conversation and a simple “good morning” takes just a split second. Then, move on. It’s also called respect. When you look someone in the eye and speak to them, and they don’t respond to you, it is disrespectful. It says “I’m much too important to be bothered with the likes of you”. Folks, this world is getting colder and colder and it needs to stop. As an Admin, I say hello or good morning to those I meet throughout my day whether I know them or not. And we do have staff here, some who are supervisory staff, who regularly snub people who greet them no matter what time of day it is. I used to let it go, but now I repeat myself louder until it elicits a response. And not offering a greeting in return is a poor reflection on both your professionalism and your company as a whole. Morning person or not, if you are upright and breathing, you would do well to utter a simple response when someone speaks to you.

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Diane May 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm

You said it all with your comment. I just had this happen to me yesterday when I greeted the Chancellor of our University who just looked at me and said nothing.

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Patty May 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

Wow, Lori you are right on! I could not have said it better. Have a nice day.

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ExecMart May 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Wow! Great response Lori. Thank you.

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Patty May 18, 2012 at 8:34 am

So many comments. I am also a morning person and there is nothing more cheerful, in my mind, than a sunny disposition. Too bad we aren’t all like that. I had a boss once and, for six years, she did not respond to my good mornings, except with a grunt or nothing. I persisted anyway because that’s my nature. It never changed, but I got used to it.

There was a gentleman in another office who started off without acknowledging my good mornings at all, then after awhile I got a grunt, then a strained good morning back. If I forgot to say it because I didn’t see him in his cubicle, he would come to my desk and ask me what was wrong.

So, it’s up to you whether or not you want to persist with the no-sayers or not, but keep up the cheerfulness. It goes a long way in the office these days.

Patty

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Kathy J May 18, 2012 at 8:32 am

I was brought up to say “good morning” to people I encounter. I’ve always done that, just as a way of acknowledging them. Several years ago I moved from the North to the South, and I was surprised at how many people here lack basic courtesy skills. I greet people throughout the day when I first encounter them. It doesn’t bother me so much any more when they don’t respond. Some are actually surprised that I greeted them.

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Virginia May 18, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hi, Kathy, I don’t know what part of the “South” you live in, but I was born and raised in Louisiana, and you would NEVER get that response there! We are friendly and open people. In fact, the opposite is true in my life, I moved from the South to the North, and am appalled by the lack of manners and courtesy shown to not just coworkers but fellow humans.

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Glenda May 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I agree with Virginia, and I thought I must have read it wrong – Southerners lacking basic courtesy skills? – because living in an area of the South that gets a lot of tourist traffic most everyone will agree that Northerner’s tend to be rude or unfriendly. Most Southerners are very hospitable and tend to be known for our “southern charm”. I am sorry that you have encountered the opposite.

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KathyJ May 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

It’s good to hear that most areas of the South are not like the one I live in! I’ve come to accept and appreciate a lot of the cultural differences, and I pretty much just let things that used to annoy me roll off my back now.

(Once again, I can’t really read the Captcha words, so if this posts, I’ll be surprised.)

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JoAnn Paules May 18, 2012 at 7:19 am

I am one of those folks who is *not* a morning person. When greeting in the morning I generally just nod in the greeter’s direction. It’s nothing personal, it’s just who I am at that time of the day. Catch me a couple of hours later and I’ll be fine but please don’t expect me to be Little Mary Sunshine right off the bat.

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Elizabeth May 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I think that if someone is saying good morning to other people in order to generate a response, then it’s not really out of courtesy or altruism; it’s to get people to acknowledge him or her.

That said, the reality is that whether we are morning people or not, we have to be at work in the morning; civility is something people should try to practice in general. Sure, it’s rude not to respond to someone if we hear them say hello; on the other hand – that’s life. It is very doubtful that it is a personal slap in the face.

If you want to say hello or good morning, then do so, but don’t get bent out of shape if people don’t respond. If your (I mean this generically, not toward the person who asked the question) self-esteem is hanging on those little things, then you’ve got issues to deal with; I wouldn’t worry about who responds or doesn’t. You need to get yourself a thicker skin – otherwise everything is painful. I know – I used to be like that.

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Mark May 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I think you and a couple others have the right attitude. Do it, but don’t expect anything in return, so when you DO get something in return, it’s a pleasant surprise. Don’t worry about who does or does not respond. There are countless things in anyone’s life to legitimately worry about. Someone saying “good morning” back to you isn’t one of them.

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Mark May 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm

(That was a response to Ava O.)

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Vee May 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I say good morning when I arrive to everyone and those that don’t respond really don’t impact my life. I grew up with manners and was taught to acknowledge people. I am not a morning person, but hey, you’ve been awake long enough to get to work and get over the fact that you’re there. Most of us have to work and many do not enjoy what they do, but if you dwell on the negative your life will reflect it and guess what…you’re never climbing higher unless you’re really, really special or have really, really speciall skills, e.g., a surgeon. People don’t want to work with or around curmudgeons. As an earlier person commented, the world is much ruder and manners are unfortunately becoming more and more scarce.

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Ava O May 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I’m actually temping in an engineering firm and those guys are not really morning folks either. I am one of over a dozen temps they’ve had, and, not to brag, but I do consider myself an office professional. I don’t think the previous temps were, so the first day I was there, I got looks like I had 3 heads or something when I greeted everyone with a smile and a cheerful good morning. HA! I’m not insulted when fellow workers don’t say good morning back to me. I have thicker skin than that. I am continuing my quest to say good morning and hoping someday that I’ll get an acknowlement back. But, if I don’t, no sweat. I just continue to be my great professional self – always and with each employee.

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TBB May 17, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I agree with Jan. Just continue to say your “good morning” whether they respond or not, move on, and don’t take it personally.

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C.E. May 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm

When I was learning to be an Admin I was taught that you always greet people as they come into the office – whether they are visitors, co-workers, VIP’s, and so forth. You should greet people not ignore them – you are an ambassador of your company and your office to whomever walks through the door. You don’t have to get into a half-hour conversation with the person about your bunions, just say, “hello” or “good morning!” People in the world are getting colder and ruder – do we have to let go of this little bit of civility as well? What’s barbaric thing will we do next – start giving the finger to people who walk in the office door?! Why not just lock it and keep them out all together? Really people, we’re not living in Mad Max world yet!

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Bar May 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I was once warned a supervisor that they were not a happy camper in the morning and not to speak to them until they approached me. I think they came to around 10 a.m.

I was a bit taken back but everyone has a different clock and not everyone is a morning person. I realized that by being cheerful right away in the morning could really bother someone. talk to me around 9 p.m. and my brain has already gone to bed.

As an admin. my goal is to ease my co-workers work load, not necessarily greet them in the morning. Most folks come up to deliver a project and start with a “hi” and that’s all that is needed. I can add a greeting or chat a bit depending on the person. It doesn’t matter as long as I’m friendly and approachable.

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Mark May 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Two of us here read this. My response (I’m the blunt one) is, why do you care about their response? If you want to say good morning to everyone, that’s great. It is a very polite thing to do. But speaking as someone who is not a morning person, it doesn’t necessarily annoy me when people are cheerful in the morning, but it does annoy me when people expect me to be as cheerful as them. I would say keep doing what you are doing, but don’t worry about who responds and who doesn’t. Don’t they have a right not to respond?

The other person here with me has a suggestion. He says that an alternative to “Good morning”, is to ask a specific question, since a question is usually answered by the other person. Examples, “How are you this morning?” “How was your weekend?” “Did you have a good night?” “Did you watch Dancing With the Stars last night?”, etc. Many people ignore “good morning” greetings. Most people don’t ignore specific questions.

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Overjoy May 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm

It really does not matter to me if they do or not, but in cases as you have described here I think the person just needs to stay home. I just don’t believe it is good to bring the personal problems to the office. If they have that much going on how can they stay focused on their work. But as you say in most cases it is not personal.

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Overjoy May 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

This was in response to Martha, not sure what happened.

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Overjoy May 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I am not a morning person. However, whenever I walked around the office in the morning, specifically to say good morning to everyone, it helped me by bringing me out of that grouchy mood. For those who have to deal with the ones that will not return the good morning what I would suggest is if, you are saying it in passing, take a few seconds to stop and look them in the face and instead of just a Good morning, try “Good morning, How are you today?” Don’t linger!!! Leave saying, “Have a great day!”

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Jan May 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I already know the people that may or may not speak back, but I still say “Good Morning” with that in mind. I also keep in mind I don’t say “Hello” to get a “Hello” back.

Whoever responds fine, and whoever does not, that’s fine too! I just know I have done my part to “show myself friendly”!

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Anonymous May 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Depending on how big/small your office is, you could probably keep track in your head of who will respond and who won’t. That’s my guide for who to greet in the mornings. Some people just aren’t up for it. I know people who get upset just because you said a word to them too early in the day. Don’t let it get you down. People are different and you just have to accept that…..or move to France! I’ve heard that there it is customary to go around the entire office and tell each person “bonjour” by name. It’s rude if you don’t.

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Overjoy May 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Oh I did not know that….I learned something today!! And I do that except I don’t say bonjour!!! A co-worker that knows a little german taught me how to say it in german and it would get my co-workers to laughing in the morning when I would come around trying to say it with a german accent. There is also another co-worker name George when I go by his desk I will say it differently Good murnin’ Gerge almost like Jorge….and he just laughs!!! Maybe adding a little humor might help but it could also backfire!!

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Deborah Creps May 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Don’t take it personally if someone does not respond to your greeting of “good morning.” It may not be a good morning for them…it may be horrible and they are just barely getting by…just on the verge of tears. Also, some people just aren’t morning people.

If someone doesn’t respond that may be a clue that they need some extra attention, maybe a listening ear. Give them room and seek an opportunity to do something nice for them. Buy them a coffee, offer to help with their workload, give them a nice note about something they have done for you….just find something to brighten their day and in that way it will bring you joy.

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Martha May 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I agree with the other posters and don’t let it bother you. Maybe they had a tragedy in their family or a family member/friend is in the hospital – or maybe they are just not having a good morning.

Just because someone doesn’t return the acknowledgment doesn’t mean it’s a personal snub.

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Lisa S May 22, 2012 at 7:16 pm

I agree – you never know what’s going on in many co-workers’ lives. They may be having a truly bad day (relative in the hospital or other personal problem). They might not be a socially outgoing person. Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t take it personally if they don’t reply.

Also, remember that no one is obligated to be cheerful all of the time! I remember a former co-worker that used to go around telling people to smile all of the time. I found THAT kind of rude!

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J_Mo July 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Ugh! I HATE that!

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Lisa May 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I have had that same thing happen to me. I say good morning anyway because that’s who I am. Every now and then I will even get a response out of the ones who don’t usually respond. Sometimes their minds are alreay on the day and sometimes some just choose to be rude, don’t let it stop you from being gracious.

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Kelly O May 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Understand that some people may not hear you, or may be absorbed in whatever task is at hand. They’re not ignoring you to be rude, they’re just preoccupied.

One important thing to remember is not everyone needs to conform to your ideal behavior. You may be a bubbly morning person who greets everyone; your coworker may be a night owl looking for her next cup of coffee to reach a full level of consciousness.

Personally, my advice is just let it go. If you feel you have to speak, then speak. Remember, how people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours – that’s one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Wayne Dyer.

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Sam Adams May 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Guess the real question is why say Good morning? Is it to acknowledge the person you are saying hello to or to be acknowledged? People have their reasons for not responding and it there could be dozens of them. Catch up with them later and say “hi, how are you doing?”, give them a compliment about something they are wearing and you may see them perk up next time. But if you continue to hear crickets, continue to be gracious anyway…..why not?…..in the final analysis it’s not how well you are treated but how well you treat others….

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