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I am working for an IT company and I don't like my current workplace for various reasons.

I greet anyone no matter what and I greet them all politely. This is what I was told to do as a child. Sadly, most of them ignore me. It really hurts me, but I have kept greeting.

However, I am so depressed these days. So, I would like to stop greeting because I don't want to be hurt or depressed anymore. On the other hand, I don't want to be the same as them. I would like to be polite to anyone as a person. If I don't greet, I would be like them.

I come to the office earlier than anybody, and greet to those who pass by my seat. So, I think I never interrupt anyone's jobs because they don't start their tasks.

I am Japanese, grew up in Japan, and working in Japan. I am almost 25years old and youngest at the workplace. My co-workers, most of them are male, and a few female.

What should I do? What is good practice here?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Masked Man, gnat, Rory Alsop, sleske, JasonJ Apr 3 '17 at 13:41

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  • 4
    Casual greetings don't always require a response. If you get no reply, just keep going and try not to take it badly. – Brandin Apr 3 '17 at 8:58
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    Sorry, I don't understand: " I am so depressed these days. So, I would like to stop greeting because I don't want to be hurt or depressed anymore!" What does that mean? Do you your feeling of depression is caused by greeting others? Please edit to clarify. – sleske Apr 3 '17 at 9:22
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    Are you from a different cultural background to your co-workers? – Simon Hoare Apr 3 '17 at 9:53
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    What does your greeting entail? Is it just "hi" to everybody or a handshake all round? Try just "Good morning" when you enter the room and be happy if anyone says it back. Don't worry about it too much. IT people are notorious for not being outgoing chatty extroverts. – RedSonja Apr 3 '17 at 10:09
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    Note that a lot of people think that "depressed" means something similar to "sad". I have a feeling that OP means the latter. Clinical depression does not typically arise from people not returning your casual office greetings. Talking about seeing a doctor is somewhat overkill. – pipe Apr 3 '17 at 10:28

10 Answers 10

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Keep greeting people, don't be a part of the problem. Also, start looking for a new job. If your job makes you unhappy, stooping to the level of your coworkers isn't going to make you happy.

  • 1
    This. Something as small as the lack of greetings back aren't the cause of the negative vibe. At best it's a symptom of a larger problem. – Martijn Apr 3 '17 at 10:30
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    I am not convinced that the problem will go away if the OP moves to a different job. – Mr Lister Apr 3 '17 at 11:32
  • Sometimes people may not notice, or if they do I find it unlikely he'd be ignored, more likely he'd receive at least a non-verbal acknowledgment. If this is disturbing him, then @MrLister is right, the problem will probably arise at a new job as well. – user1997744 Apr 3 '17 at 13:42
  • I wouldn't ordinarily consider people "not responding" as a problem. Not everyone is demonstrative and sunny. It doesn't mean they don't appreciate the behaviour. But the difference here is that the OP is unhappy with the environment as a whole. – Simon Hoare Apr 3 '17 at 14:38
17

But I greet anyone no matter what

Does it mean every time you enter to your office, you start greeting everyone from entrance until you reach your seat? if yes, that's more like a harassment than a greeting.

Anyways, It really depends. I have the habit of greeting people every time I come across them. and I agree with you that doing so is polite. However, some people aren't like us at all. Especially the introverts and also in some Asian cultures greeting is not as important as it's in the west.

Those that ignores you have no problem with you at all, and they don't mean to ignore you. They are just like that!

My suggestion would be to continue greeting those which gives you a genuine response and forget about the rest.

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    "Harassment" is an extremely strong word to use for just saying hi to people. – David Richerby Apr 3 '17 at 10:24
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    I had a colleague once who approached everyone in the office each morning, greeted them and shook hands with them. There were about 30 people in the office and I personally felt very uneasy when it was "my turn". I was relieved when that person left (or was fired, not sure). Just my 2c about how greetings can actually be a harassment to some people. – Lope Apr 3 '17 at 10:24
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    I was trying to be a little bit sarcastic by using the word "harassment" . Please don't take it literally. What I meant was that, not everyone is going to feel comfortable if you want to say Hi to them every single morning if you have no intention to approach them personally. – comxyz Apr 3 '17 at 11:24
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    Thank you for your comments. I didn't mean I greet everyone. I arrive at the office early than anybody, so I greet to people passing by my seat. If someone feel uncomfortable because of my greeting, it may be harassment. I got what you mean. – taco Apr 3 '17 at 11:27
  • I really do not want to shake hands with OP after they shook the hands of Joe from Accounting. I share the same restroom with Joe, and Joe's hands are... very unsuitable for an operating room. – Mindwin Apr 3 '17 at 12:42
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I'm going to chip in my answer, as I work in IT as well, and occasionally I do get annoyed by people being a bit too "friendly" with their greetings. I won't touch on the depression bit of your question, but rather why people may not want to great you.

If I'm in the office and I'm working and focused on a task, someone coming in and greeting me is not helping me retain that focus. While a quick "hi!" won't go unanswered, people who deliberately go about to shake everyone's hand will be much more annoying in that scenario - I can "register and reply" to your "hi" almost automatically, but when you go around shaking hands, then it's a lot more disruptive. Personally I will always answer a greeting, even a disruptive one, but that doesn't make it less annoying in this scenario.

Again, do note that this for those scenarios when the person being greeted is hard at work and focused on something important.

Another thing, for me personally, is the fact that I'm an introvert. That doesn't mean I can't or won't shake someone's hand, but if possible I'd prefer to keep a greeting quick and verbal. Obviously this sort of preference varies from person to person.

Finally, if you address an entire room of IT people with a "hi guys!"... are you sure everyone even hears you? Perhaps they have headphones on? Headphones on + screen focus = easy to miss someone saying something casually.

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I would like to be polite to anyone as a person. If I don't greet, I would be like them.

I think that this is a bit of a stretch.

Just saying "hello" is "polite" on the surface of it, but at the point you've reached — you're doing it so frequently, and without any appreciation for context, that it's annoying people to the extent that they're now ignoring you — you're actually being impolite.

You should consider more than "greeting" or "not greeting". There is a time and a place for every social interaction. If you wish to be polite, consider whether greeting is appropriate before doing so.

You don't always have to say something.

  • Some people may uncomfortable by my greeting, but at least I try to greet politely to change my workplace better. I think greeting is the first step to communicate with people, so I greet to people. Then, what should I do to communicate with people? or please tell me the way of greeting which is enough polite. – taco Apr 3 '17 at 11:59
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    @taco: I'm curious as to why you think you're being "polite" when you know it's making people uncomfortable? Going out of your way to make people uncomfortable is the opposite of polite. I think maybe you should (a) stop doing this, (b) better consider the feelings of others, and (c) stop worrying so much about whether you're "polite" or not or who to "greet". Just engage in basic human social interaction where appropriate, taking cues from your surroundings, and you'll be fine. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 3 '17 at 12:02
  • Some people feel uncomfortable just because they don't like greeting. So, even if my way of greeting is really polite, they feel not good. I would like to know how to be polite/nice to make people greet back. Maybe, I cannot be polite whenever people feel uncomfortable? – taco Apr 3 '17 at 14:11
  • @taco: I think you're missing the point somewhat. You're still assuming that your way is the "polite" way. But, sometimes, you can just say nothing and continue about your business. Sometimes, you should do that. It is not "polite" to constantly interrupt people to say nothing of real value; you already have evidence that it's irritating/boring/annoying your colleagues. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 3 '17 at 14:12
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    to make people greet back. You can't make people greet back @taco. Instead just simple go about your business. Greetings are often said in passing. I walk past and say good morning to colleagues but only if it's acceptable. I don't go out my way to walk down to the office 3 doors down to say good morning knowing that person doesn't like to be greeted. I simple stay away from them. You don't have to be friendly with every single person in your office. – Bugs Apr 3 '17 at 14:27
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I agree 100% with the answers that are telling you to not change and you should be considering a different environment to work in.

However, I'd like to add that there can be various reasons for people not to greet you back:

  • They were zoned out and did simply not hear you.
  • They did not notice your greeting (sometimes our brain is slow to react, especially if we're zoned out as pointed out in the first point) and sometimes when people eventually figure it out they feel too embarrassed to shout back a greeting; instead they figure the awkwardness they experience will be less if they pretend to not have heard it. Not for the sake of ignoring you but for not appearing awkward.
  • They weren't sure if you were greeting them or someone else.
  • Some people greet only by nodding their heads or use other kind of a body language, it's possible that you're being greeted without noticing it yourself.

There's always a chance that people are jerks but the likelihood of many people being jerks at the same place at the same time is low, especially in the workplace where people benefit from at least trying. There's always the chance though.

Consider all the factors and make a decision that will make you feel the most comfortable with.

I'd like to suggest that you try to greet people with a very clear voice and make sure you're not mumbling or whispering, to remove all doubt, you don't need to shout but it's easy to say something without the other person clearly hearing what you're saying. Making eye contact should also help to make sure they notice you in the first place.

I'd also like to suggest that you include their name in the greeting, they are more likely to snap out of the zone when they hear their name and when they're 100% sure you were indeed greeting them they're more likely to respond.If you feel like nothing changes then find yourself a work environment that makes you feel good in.

If you are too shy to include the name then simply don't take it personally when people don't respond, there's a huge chance that it has nothing to do with you, they simply did not hear you or when they figured out you were greeting them they turn out to be too embarrassed to respond as I pointed out earlier. Take a note here though, people love the sound of their name, they'll be more likely to like you when you bother using their name. Get into the habit of using it if other people's opinions matter to you. I'm not saying that it necessarily should, though.

You should definitely seek medical help about the depression, however. It's quite common and it's actually a real biological thing, you've got nothing to hide.

Edit

To me you sound like the perfect candidate to read Dale Carnegie's How to stop worrying and start living. It's an excellent reading, in my opinion, on how to stop worrying about things I cannot control.

It should give you all the answers you need to how to react to the situation you are fearing the most.

I'm going to give away 2 tips from the book that are demonstrated much better in the book so don't give up on the book or the topics if I fail to demonstrate properly:

  1. Never expect anything from anyone. An example could be: never expect people to say thanks. People are selfish in their nature and self-oriented, it's nothing personal if they don't say thanks. Never expect it and you'll be oddly satisfied when it will happen, instead of hurt when it doesn't happen. A better example, for your case, would be to never ever expect people to greet you, that way you'll accept it as a normal thing (due to various reasons that simply don't matter) so when it does happen you'll perhaps appreciate the gesture but don't take it for granted. This is demonstrated much better in the book but a potential starting point.

  2. Prepare for the worst, accept the worst, for you cannot change it, then hope for the best. Example: let's say you're afraid of losing your job. The worst thing that you think that can possibly happen to you is that you'll lose your job. Can you accept it? Could you survive if you'd lose your job? Either way, accept it. Feel good about it. If you'd lose your job and there'd be nothing you could do about it then there's no reason in worrying about it, for it will drain all of your energy. Once you've accepted the worst possible outcome you can work on doing whatever is in your power to avoid and or prepare for the worst possible outcome. More often than not the worst possible outcome will not come to reality and when it does it will be so much easier to handle once you've accepted it and stress is not a part of it. Stress is pointless if you're being stressed about something you can't possibly change.

This is much better demonstrated in the book, please take a look.

Best of luck, and remember that people are like garbage trucks.

  • Thanks. Your advice sounds nice, but I am not brave enough to say their name. If they ignore me even when I say their name, what should I do ? I am worrying about that. About my depression, it is not a big problem/sickness yet, but I may need some help before it gets terrible as you said. – taco Apr 3 '17 at 11:40
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    @taco if you don't say their name, they won't always know it is directed towards them, and so they may not respond – Stephen S Apr 3 '17 at 13:05
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    This is a good answer, except for (IMHO) the part about "greet everyone loud and clear and include their name". I think this would give the wrong impression and show desperation (and is a bit cheesy). My personal rule is to say Hi to anyone who makes eye contact when I walk into the office. – Steve Smith Apr 3 '17 at 13:13
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    I think forcing people to "snap out of the zone" is generally a bad thing, unless for important reasons. Not greeting back is probably a hint that they don't want/care to be greeted, whatever their reason may be (they could be busy, or they don't know you well enough to consider greeting you, etc.). Forcing them in this way is probably not going to be helpful. – kapex Apr 3 '17 at 13:52
  • @SteveSmith Thanks for the point. I'm trying to say that you should make sure that the person hears you, some people mumble and expect to be heard. I'm not talking about shouting, just make sure you're not whispering :) – Jonast92 Apr 3 '17 at 14:08
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Remember the pattern. Remember who you greeted and instead of them greeting you back, completely ignored you. Then next time don't greet them.

Phase out the greeting of people who continually don't greet you back. Instead focus on those that do greet you and are more welcoming.

This isn't to be rude, it's simply to ensure you don't feel put out. Not everyone greets so don't greet those people.

Some people however are having an off day. They've come into work from being up all night due to one thing or another and are in their own little sleepless world. These people often are not being impolite so don't take offence to them not greeting you back and instead try again tomorrow.

In my workplace I get into work around 08:30 whilst a few others start before that. I get to my office, then go off to grab a coffee which means I have to walk through an open plan office consisting of around 20 people. I don't greet any of these people at that point. I don't even greet the room and yet if I see any of those same people in the kitchen whilst grabbing my coffee I'll greet them. I'll also greet people as we pass each other whilst walking. Notice how I don't greet people when they are at their desks. That's because I deem it inappropriate.

1

You seem to sound just like me.Even I like meeting and greeting everyone.
But I keep on adding exceptions to list of people to greet.
Everybody has different psychology.And they react differently to different situations.
So treating everybody same might not be a good option.
So I usually mark some people who don't give a positive response to my actions and try to avoid my general behaviour towards them.This way I'm able to maintain a self respect and follow my rules by being good.

0

Very likely, you feeling hurt or depressed is only for a small part being determined by not being greeted back - there are more important factors.

That also means that not greeting will not solve the issue.

Be the example of who you want to be in the world, and keep greeting. As Benjamin already wrote in his answer, you can vary your tone with different people: either be formal or be friendly.

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"Good practice" is extremely culture-dependent. In the office where I work, many people have flexible working times, and anybody who even said "Hi" to their nearest neighbours who were already working when they arrived would be considered a bit strange, unless they needed to interrupt the other person immediately for some work-related reason.

On the other hand, in France you might find that everybody shakes hands with (and/or kisses) everybody else in the office when they arrive, and not doing that would be considered very anti-social!

0

In my case I look if my greeting will help someone, like if they are also in same mood of greeting, I greet them.

If they are in mood of not greeting, then I also do not greet.

This can be understood by looking at their face :)

Basically you have to respond according to the person, this is service...

While most of the times, I do not want to greet because I am in certain flow and I do not want to break that flow (this might be the reason for people who are in mood of not greeting)

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