I know this may be a very newbie question, but I really want to know.

When you come in for a new day of work and see coworkers, is it common to shake hands, or simply say "hi" or "morning" ? Or Do people just get right to work?

  • 4
    Depends. Butt slaps are appropriate if you work in the NFL. High-fives are great if you work as a Wall Street broker. Personally, I have the most luck with saying "hello, [fellow employee's first name]"
    – DA.
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 15:30
  • 1
    Depends on local culture: What county are you in?
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 16:39
  • 1
    If someone comes in with a cold and you want to make sure everyone catches it, by all means shake hands with everyone every morning. Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 18:05
  • 4
    The thing to do in North America is to ask people how they're doing and then walk away before they get a chance to answer.
    – MrFox
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 17:37
  • "Wazzap" is what I greet my roommates with. But then, I am working as a phd student at the university, so yeah, it really depends. Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 19:35

5 Answers 5


Shaking hands daily would be way too formal.

People vary from a slight head nod to a full-blown "Hi, how are you, how was [the weather / the ride in / sports trivia].

It really depends on the type of work, industry, type of company, size of company, country, style of company, etc.

The main guide with etiquette questions like this is to wait and see and observe what the existing folks do and follow their need. They'll be expecting you to do that anyway.

  • Shaking hands has such a blue collar feel to it.
    – quant_dev
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 16:49
  • 1
    I think the opposite actually, which is obviously fine - and interesting ! Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 2:07
  • Guess it's my ethnic background. Where I hail from, on every construction site the builders start their day by exchanging handshakes. Office people, not so much.
    – quant_dev
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 9:56
  • 2
    As far as I know, people in France shake everyone's hands/kiss everyone's cheeks every morning. It's a ritual that takes up a good 5-10 minutes of your time. Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 13:09

I agree with most of what Michael mentioned with one small addition. You should greet people in whatever way is most comfortable to you, but be encouraged to step out of your comfort zone a bit.

Observe what everyone else is doing and figure out a way to make yourself standout in a memorable, yet appropriate, way. If most people just say, "Hey", then throw in a "How ya doing?". Cultivating relationships starts with making yourself approachable.

  • 3
    I'm coming back around to this question with a reflection of something that happened recently that might provide additional insight. A co-worker with whom I have a good relationship recently finished a big project that took up most of his time. I went from seeing him daily to not seeing him for nearly 6 weeks. Upon the first time meeting after his return, we both instinctively reached out to shake hands. In short, time is also a cue of when it's appropriate to shake or not. Haven't seen someone in a long time? Give them a handshake. See them daily? A handshake is not necessary.
    – ckoerner
    Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 20:54

There's a ritual in office I work in to shake hands of all inside. A few minutes of walking between all desks.

I find no sense in that and never do such a think. I just go in and say 'Hello' (sometimes it happens I forget it). But I'm not typical because I don't like physical contact. And noone ever said me a bad work about it.

  • 1
    Hmm, interesting - this is in Poland yes? Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 21:08
  • I bet that is fun during flu season. Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 14:44

First, see what other people do and find the "standard".

Then, add a bit of "your personality" to that standard and make it your way.

Example 1

You're a social avoiding person and everyone at office has a 10 min talk at morning just to start-up. Join that talk for 5 min, and go work.

Example 2

You're a happy person that like socializing and getting to know everyone at office, but the others are more of the "straight to the desk without a hi" kind of people. In this case just share some good mornings around on your way to your desk.


On a new encounter, introduce yourself. If your company is typical, then someone who you met at the interview should take you around the people who you are to work with and introduce them to you.

On a day to day basis, I just say "Morning" and carry on my work. usually followed by some benign bullshit I really couldn't give a shit about, usually TV, sport or some other event that everyone can relate to.

After about 2 months, I give up on the small talk and just get on with the job. People get on my nerves, but hey, you got to pretend, or you don't get paid :)

  • 1
    I think with the exclusion of the last few lines, this would have a few upvotes.
    – Garry
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 19:43
  • some dark humor here. :P Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 14:06

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