In my opinion one should always get up when shaking someones someone elses hand, no matter if it's your boss, your co-worker or your friend. A while ago however, a co-woker of mine told me "don't get up" when I got up to say goodbye. After that I got up again the next time, and he told me the same thing.

I now wanted to ask if it is considered rude to get up while greeting/saying goodbye to someone if you were asked to stay seated? And if so, are there situation where one should get up regardless of being asked not to?

edit: to give a bit of context: i'm working as a waiter, and the co-worker and we regulalry take the subway home and sit face to face to each other. So when he gets off at his stop we shake hands and he leaves.

  • Is this a coworker you see for a few hours every day? Or once in awhile during meetings? I think the former dictates a casual "Have a good day!" while the latter does dictate a handshake. In the North Eastern US it's polite to stand when shaking someone's hand. However, depending on locale it very much can change. And of course, like everything else, it depends on the recipient's preference if you can at all help it.
    – zfrisch
    Oct 12, 2015 at 18:21
  • Since it's on a subway, you have to consider the space available and your seating preference. If it were me, I would prefer to stand in the subway in any case. So I would just say I needed to stand up anyway to wait for my stop.
    – Brandin
    Oct 13, 2015 at 8:18

4 Answers 4


I now wanted to ask if it is considered rude to get up while greeting/saying goodbye to someone if you were asked to stay seated?

(The answer depends on locale. I'm in the US)

I find shaking hands with someone while seated to be very awkward. Thus I always stand when I plan to shake someone's hand - even if they have told me to stay seated.

I think saying "don't get up" is just a social pleasantry, not an order. So I never find it rude for someone to rise to shake my hand.

On the other hand, shaking someone's hand to say goodbye repeatedly might be considered odd. I say goodnight to everyone on my team as I leave for the day. Shaking their hand, or having them shake my hand, in that context would be odd.


This depends on local conventions. Getting up in these cases is a sign of respect, but in modern usage (a) it isn't considered necessary and (b) some folks are a bit embarrassed when the respect seems more than they think they deserve.

Please don't get up" can be taken as "please don't feel that you have to get up". Doing so anyway really won't bother anyone very much. At most it may make your co-worker uncomfortable because he didn't get up and now has second thoughts about that decision, but that's something he has to work out for himself.

Generally, for this sort of thing, the best answer is to try not to be first, so you can see what others are doing and follow their lead -- or decide you're going to follow your own customs and stop worrying about it.


Don't shake hands and don't get up. Just wave and say goodbye.


He perhaps doesn't want you to lose your seat. At any rate since he has asked you more than once not to get up, I think the polite thing to do is to stay seated.

  • 1
    I agree that it's probably motivated by the fact that they're saying goodbye while seated on a train. Whether it's a concern about losing one's seat, or merely a wish that the other person remain comfortable, or just thinking there's no reason to get up just to sit down again. I do think it's generally seen as customary and not impolite to remain seated while a companion leaves a train.
    – recognizer
    Oct 12, 2015 at 21:21

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