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The Early Greeter

The Early Greeter. This is an individual we are all aware of. We know they lurk out there, in public places, cafes, hospitals, airports … these people have no boundaries.

Other people are awkward. It’s the human species natural reaction to itself. You’re casually walking down a long corridor. You notice 30 yards down another person rounds the corner. There really are no options. Its one long hallway, you are going one way, this person, the other way. At some point you must pass one another. Your eyes lock, and in unison you both look awkwardly toward the wall next to you, as if there were a vast picturesque landscape to observe.

You’re thinking to yourself “okay, just another 25 yards to go.” Then, out of the blue, this stranger half-shouts “Hello!”


Did that person just hello you at 25 yards out? This cannot be real, you suddenly doubt yourself, then this person follows up with a “How’s it going?”

Okay, so holding conversation has never been your strong suit. Much less holding one with a stranger. Even further, a stranger who is by now 23 yards away from you. What do they expect of you?

You decide not to shank the person, forgiveness is a virtue right?

Time seems to slow. The conversation moves awkwardly around nothing, and gets nowhere. With each step your mind is reeling through the several awkward scenarios that might ensue.

Then the two of you pass, (likely) never to speak again.

You are a victim! It’s not your fault that this person has not learned to curb their enthusiasm. Yet there you were, being ripped apart (metaphorically) by their awkwardly timed conversation.

Are you an Early Greeter?

Often times we do not realize bad or annoying things about ourselves until friends point them out. I’m here to be your friend.

Here are some common etiquette points on those awkward one on one walk-bys.

You need to acknowledge the person. If you don’t, you’re kind of a jerk. We are walking a fine line between not being a jerk, and not being weird. So nod your head, or smile, or twitch your eye, whatever works for you.

Even though the conversation will last all of one second, many people still ask questions like “How are you feeling today?” The real response to that is “I’ve been better, I have a headache and my dog chewed up the couch last night, and that cream the doctor gave me is not helping the rash at all.” That’s your real answer to that question. But everyone knows that is not polite.

The response that is expected is “I’m okay, how are you?”

Now, if they are following the common rules of adequate they will not actually answer your follow up inquiry of how they are doing. Its more of a courtesy from you, and they should recognize that.

If you are the type of person that cannot leave a question answered, than you may want to consider changing your opening greeting. Instead of “how are you?” you could say “I’m doing fine, thanks!”

Doing this is likely to cause a bit of confusion with the opposite party. However, it closes the possibility that they will ask you a question, which leads to another. Then you would have what we call the snowball hello.

Withhold your own impulse to begin conversation too soon. As a general rule do not engage in your greeting until the person is within spitting distance; usually a few steps away. If you engage too early, you’ll be an Early Greeter. And if you wait too long, you’ll just be that jerk that ignores people who are obviously there.

Title image used with permission (permission pending) and courtesy of Raven18, check out the original here.

Read it in the bathroom! Print It! Read it in the bathroom! Print It!

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