The receptionist at the entrance to our office never looks up when I walk past her, either on my way in or out.

For awhile, I would still say "Hi, [Name]" the first time I saw her each day. She would then look up and say "Hello" back. Eventually, I got tired of this. I began to feel like she was clearly trying to avoid me, like I was forcing her to acknowledge me, and overall like I was being a cad.

Lately, I have settled into the habit of walking right past without even looking at her, let alone saying hello. I haven't greeted her in weeks, despite walking by her several times every day. Is this rude of me? It feels unnatural to me, but at the same time, it feels "better" than when I would initiate what felt like an unwelcome greeting.

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    @LawrenceAiello Not every culture is your company's culture. These things matter more in some companies than in others. Emotional intelligence is often an essential part of career growth. – Roger Jun 5 '15 at 20:42
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    Other than saying 'hi' have you ever talked with her? I suspect that actually you're yearning for actual communication going on. Saying 'hi' and then hearing her programmed response 'hi/hello' returned to you is hardly that. I've sometimes been in the described communication situation and then think to myself 'Hey, maybe it would be interesting to instead try to go talk to this person at least once.' – Brandin Jun 5 '15 at 22:13
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    @Brandin I have talked to her, and still do, and we get along fine. It's that first encounter each morning that is throwing me off... it's just so hard for me to walk past someone, clearly entering their consciousness, without acknowledging them -- especially at work, where I hope to avoid offending others. – Shiz Z. Jun 5 '15 at 23:10
  • In some cultures there will be rules that you have to great your superiors, whether they take notice or not. (And in those cultures, you can be sure they do take notice). Receptionists are rarely covered by this. You tried to be polite without acknowledgement, that's enough. – gnasher729 Jun 7 '15 at 23:56

I know this situation very well as it happens to me with many people I come across as I walk into the office in the morning. I started off saying 'Morning' with a smile to the receptionist or other staff as I went to my desk; some would ignore me and some would quietly say 'Morning' back like they were forced to acknowledge me. I was brought up to acknowledge a person's presence as I walk into a room but unfortunately in today's society of people trapped in their own little bubble this is a dying practice.

I don't think you should acknowledge everyone, just people who make eye contact with you or you work with closely as it makes you appear friendly and welcoming. If they continue to ignore you, or you can see it makes them uncomfortable, then simply don't do it to those people (That's what I do). Also don't do this to everyone if you work in a large company otherwise you'd be saying 'Morning' a lot.

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    +1 for "if eye contact, then greet". At first I was going to agree that this is an "over-thinking it" question, then I thought about the poor receptionist who is probably tired of saying "Hello" and "Good Morning" a zillion times a day, plus all the "witty" quips we morons think are so original. If she wants to be greeted, she'll make eye contact. The same as if you want to be greeted. – Kent A. Jun 5 '15 at 21:30
  • I know my energy level varies and sometimes I am more introverted and avoid eye-contact. Large issues in a person's life can occupy their attention for a while also. Sometimes there is no "best answer", that is why we are human and not robots. – user37746 Jul 2 '15 at 16:31

I always say "Hello" to the receptionist when I come in and "Good bye" to her when I leave. It does not matter to me that she acknowledge me. What matters to me is that she knows when I am in and when I am out, so that she relay this info to others if need be.

There are actually two people who must always know: my boss and the receptionist. I want to make sure that my colleagues or anyone else can ask either my boss or the receptionist. However, my boss is not always available so he one person who has to know at all times is the receptionist.

I am not really trying to chit-chat with the receptionist, I am letting her know that I am in or out of the office so that she can tell anyone who asks.

  • This theory is a little flawed, say you walk out or in while she is on a break or hasnt started her shift how will she know if you are in or out the building. Also in a medium to large company the receptionist often doesn't even know your name let alone what your job is or if your in work or not without having to query with your dept. I prefer to let people in my dept who i work with know i am in rather than a stranger. – Stormy Jun 7 '15 at 10:50
  • @Stormy You mean to say that there is only one receptionist and when she is on a break, nobody is at the reception desk to answer the phone and greet the visitors? That's nonsense! Aside from that, even in a large department, receptionists learn fairly quickly who is whom starting with the manager and the senior staff. The number of people I personally know is in the hundreds. My first company had a policy whereby if we came or left the office, we were to do so on the same floor where we worked. We had a receptionist on every floor and their desk was situated in front of the elevator. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jun 7 '15 at 11:05
  • @Stormy The receptionists started their day half an hour before the official work day and ended it half an hour after the official workday. If I was up all night, I would make a point of stopping by the receptionist's desk to say hello. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jun 7 '15 at 11:10

Does she look up and say "hi" to other people? If not, she may just be introverted (although this is an unusual quality in a receptionist). She may also be the type of person that gets lost in her own thoughts and may not be intentionally ignoring you.

My advice would be to strike a middle ground by saying "hello" once in the morning (assuming the receptionist is not on the phone or otherwise occupied). It's not necessary to do so again that day. If do happen to make eye contact afterwards, just smile and nod.

  • I am not the only one she doesn't greet. Regarding saying "hello" once, that is the approach I started with, and subsequently abandoned in favor of silence. – Shiz Z. Jun 5 '15 at 23:13

It really depends on the person -- some people love personal interaction and initiate greetings, and others would just as soon go about their business.

Think of this from the receptionist's point of view -- if you had to say hello several hundred times a day, would you think that was fun?

In a smaller office it might seem rude, but I think you are correct in this case to let the person's response dictate your actions.

  • I agree that she shouldn't have to greet everyone, every time. My question is about that first encounter each day, when I walk in alone, and she's alone, and we both know that we both are aware of each other -- it feels strange to me to keep staring straight ahead, pretending like we're not there. – Shiz Z. Jun 5 '15 at 23:12
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    She is the RECEPTIONist, too, LOL :) – Shiz Z. Jun 5 '15 at 23:55
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    @ShizZ. if her only responsibility is to sit there and greet people, like a greeter at Walmart, that's one thing. If she has other responsibilities, then everytime she has to respond to someone it takes her away from her task. – mcknz Jun 6 '15 at 22:10

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