The problem is not with people I know or I work with or have ever worked with or ever spoken to –the dilemma, the uncertainty is with people I see everyday, maybe many times in a day, but never had to speak or exchange emails with them. What to do when you come across face to face with such people in the walkway, in the cafeteria, walking in/out the restrooms, at water dispensers ?Do you smile , say hi, or smile and nod your head slightly or just just look away to avoid eye contact ?Because, maybe if you smile, he/she might not acknowledge or might not remember seeing you somewhere. Whatever it is, the mutual understanding has to be established to avoid those dilly-dally hellos and almost inaudible last-minute how-are-yous.
I remember a colleague I worked with long back who started a reply to an email with hi only of the sender had written hi, if the sender had written his name followed by a comma, he would do just the same, if not, he would just come to the real thing, without any hi/hello or name salutation, and also he would write thanks/regards only if he had received one. I found that a little peculiar. Well, I am not saying that one should always put a hi or just the recipient’s name in each and every email and in all chains of emails , its not possible , but I don’t even notice what a particular person writes, I just write what I feel like, sometimes with hi/thanks or both, sometimes I just go straight to the business .I don’t mind emails, but personal encounters I do.
I believe that for us humans, all is measured in give and take. So, if somebody says hi and smiles , I would do the same , and I don’t hesitate to be the one to start that rapport, because I know how uncomfortable it becomes after some time, if it happens to be unsure glances. But so many looks,eye-contacts are just lost, when we are just not ready to smile and unwillingly ignore people and that little weight remains somewhere, which you want to unburden the next time you see that person, with a doubly emphatic hi, how are you doing.
But there are some pople, who although not totally unknown, who for reasons known better to them, always maintain a dour face and start to study the ground although nothing’s changed, when you pass them or seem to think so deeply at that moment, or are always calculating something, that they don’t seem to notice you walking right in front, and that happens every time. Those people I get perplexed with, I know you’re busy and important but you can sure see a known human form coming from the front- and everytime they do their part, I pledge to pay them back in the same coin and am determined to study the floor like a detective, next time. But I just can’t do that, I am not desperate for your smile or acknowledgemnet, but I know you , can’t you just say hi.