General Question

nikipedia's avatar

Can we solve the problem of hallway etiquette?

Asked by nikipedia (27320 points ) November 5th, 2009

This has driven me nuts for years. If you are walking down a very long hallway, and you see someone you know walking toward you from the other end, what do you do until you are close enough to wave and say hi?

Alternatively, suppose you are walking down a very short hallway in a place you frequent (neighborhood, work) and see someone you don’t know. Do you default to making eye-contact and saying hi? If not, why not? (There are several people who work in my building who avert their gaze and never say hi to anyone. This also drives me nuts.)

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44 Answers

MrGV's avatar

There is a hallway etiquette? wow

erichw1504's avatar

Everyone is different. Some always at least make eye contact, some don’t bare to look at you. I for one like to at least make eye contact, even if I have never seen the person before. And this is at work only. In the outside world, like down the streets of a city, I would probably not make eye contact with most people, especially if I am walking with someone. In a neighborhood I would probably be more prone to make eye contact and say “Hi”, because it is an area I am familiar with.

As for the long hallway thing. I would wait till I’m about 10 – 15 feet away until I say “Hey”, unless they make the first move.

Grisaille's avatar

I live in NYC. Any form of eye contact is a sign of hostility.

You get shanked, man

SpatzieLover's avatar

I say “Hi”

I don’t understand why people divert their eyes…it creeps me out.

zephyr826's avatar

I am a firm believer in the eye-contact and nod technique. If it’s a long hallway and someone I know, I’ll catch their eye and smile or nod as soon as I see them. That way, they don’t feel shunned and yet I’m not shouting. I’ll not at strangers too, while I’m at work. I don’t nod out on the street or in the mall, but at work, I should probably at leas vaguely recognize them.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@GrisailleHahahaha! Right?

No, what I do is smile when I recognize the person and then when I’m close enough, I say “Hi!” and keep going unless we seem to want to stop and chat for a bit. If it’s someone I don’t like, I don’t smile, but I’ll nod as they go by. To do otherwise just feels rude somehow, and high school-ish.

Grisaille's avatar

@aprilsimnel You’re from the city. You know that eye contact is almost as bad as accidentally stepping on someone’s shoes.

jeanna's avatar

I always just smile until we get closer. If it’s someone I know really well, I’ll make funny faces and hand gestures until we get closer. I always say hi and smile…I like to force people to make eye contact with me.

avvooooooo's avatar

Smile and nod… just smile and nod.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

If I’m in the UK….I’ve learned to look at my shoes….or scowl. ( I had to learn that from the natives…as being friendly to strangers is interpreted as suspicious or “a ridiculous American.”)

If I am in the US….I smile.

If I am in Texas….I yell, “Howdy”.....and start waving until my arm almost flies off.

:)

J0E's avatar

ugh, I hate the long hallway walk!

jeanna's avatar

@J0E It’s your time to shine, Joe! Do something funky. Make someone’s day!

J0E's avatar

@jeanna meh, I usually just end up staring a hole through them.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Keep in mind that in many cultures eye contact is disrespectful. So assuming no eye contact is creepy or rude could be poor judgment.

I am one that usually waits till someone is close enough to nod at or talk to. In the meantime I kinda ignore them. But if it is a good friend I’ll often wave or acknowledge them right away.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Grisaille – Or then you get those who think it’s some sort of invitation. Yeesh.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@RedPowerLady And lack of eye contact in other cultures is considered the same…disrespectful. Glad I live in the midwest!

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SpatzieLover Ya but most of us know that so i’m pointing out the opposite. However there is a bit of difference in significance to be honest. In the US eye contact is expected but lack of it is nowhere near as disrespectful as giving eye contact is in other cultures. The point was to avoid assumptions that people are intentionally being rude when in fact many people could just be being normal.

Grisaille's avatar

@aprilsimnel We’re so socially bizarre. Really, our etiquette is very peculiar. If you’ve ever gotten into a staring match on the D train at 3 in the morning with a hobo, then you know what I mean.

Jesting aside, I do try to remain cognizant of these things and say “Hi” and smile as much as possible. People are initially taken aback, but you’d be surprised at how happy someone becomes when you are genuinely nice to them.

Also, sorry about the creepy mcgees who think a momentary look in their general direction is you flirting. So sorry.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Grisaille I’m one of those people whose entire day can be brightened by having a stranger give me an honest smile. Good for you!

JLeslie's avatar

At work if I know the person I would at minimum smile, maybe a “hi.” Does not matter how long the hallway is.

At work if I don’t know the person I may or may not depending on how much of rush I am in, or perceive they are in.

In a residential building I would always smile and most likely say “hi” or “good morning” whether I knew them or not.

I do not wait for them to do anything first. I rarely complain someone doesn’t say “hi,” but I might complain they don’t say “hi” back.

nikipedia's avatar

Okay, I want to clarify the long-hallway problem:

The hallway is SO LONG that you cannot effectively make eye-contact right away, but you definitely know the person. What do you do until you are able to make eye-contact and say hello?

wilma's avatar

I’m also from the Midwest, a smile and a nod is almost expected for strangers.
A “how ya doin’” for people you know.
I guess I don’t make a very good world traveler. I think I might be one of those “ridiculous Americans” that @DarlingRhadamanthus was talking about.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@nikipedia I wait until we’re close enough that I don’t have to raise my voice for them to hear me and close enough to make certain they aren’t talking into their blue tooth (how I hate those things!)

jeanna's avatar

@nikipedia I’d still do what I mentioned in my response: make funny faces and/or hand gestures. Always works for me, but people often see me as a goof…

SpatzieLover's avatar

@wilma Me too. Luckily Chicago is vastly different than NYC. You can say “Hi” to people on the street, and they’ll say “Hey!” back to you…same here in Milwaukee.

casheroo's avatar

Do what everyone does…pretend to be texting. ~

JLeslie's avatar

Even in NYC in residential buildings I say hello or smile to whomever I see in the hallway or elevator.

@nikipedia In the very long hallway I am not worried about who is at the other end of the hallway unless we are eventually near each other. I might look at them I might not. Once we are closer then I make eye contact, smile, etc.

le_inferno's avatar

If it’s a very close friend, I’ll probably shout to them obnoxiously. If it’s an acquaintance, I might pretend not to see her til I’m closer, then say hi. Or, if we inevitably make eye-contact from far away, I’ll smile, and then say hi as we get closer.

funkdaddy's avatar

I lack the ability to act like I don’t notice someone gracefully, so I quit trying. It’s more obvious and painful that I’m avoiding acknowledging you then to just admit I know you’re there. It just feels fake and clumsy otherwise.

If I don’t know you and we’re walking down a long hallway, there’s no good way to pass the walking time other than just to think about something else. When they get close, they get the nod and smile so they know I haven’t been thinking of ways to stab them.

It’s a lot more fun when you have the long hallway and someone you know who’s out of range, for that they get “the point” which can be anything from just flipping your hand up to the full out Usain Bolt if you have the time, space, and inclination.

It makes those quiet trips to the bathroom more fun.

nebule's avatar

pretend I’m in a world of my own and then when I get near them say hiya…then judge (in a split second) all their body language and whether it is telling me they want to stop and talk or not…(relying on instinct) it usually works a treat…

ratboy's avatar

My girth makes it impossible to for me to pass anyone in a hallway.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Grisaille – I came from a small town so NYC was some kind of crazy experience for me when I moved there. I found that when I was walking my dog and met another person with their dog, we would often exchange greetings and a little doggy small talk. But if you met the same person on the street later without dogs, it was like you had never laid eyes on each other before, no eye contact, no sidewise glances. Invisible, that is the way to be!

I make eye contact and smile. Well not always, it really depends on whether I am actually happy to see them or it is just a ruse that I am forced into because of the proximity of the hallway.

Allie's avatar

If I know the person, I start talking to them as soon as I see them and as soon as they’re close enough to hear me.
If I don’t know them, I look and smile and sometimes say “Hello.”

In both cases, hallway length doesn’t really matter.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Maybe it’s a Southern thing, but I always acknowledge another person in passing, in the elevator, walking behind them on the way to car at night. For the ones that avert their eyes, it’s usually a “Morning” or “Evening” without the good, but if they make eye contact, I nod and smile. If we reach the two way nod-and-smile status, I may say “Hey” or comment on the weather, but keep moving.

For someone know that’s at the other end of a long hall, it’s smile and maybe a little wave as soon as we make eye contact, but I wait to talk when we’re within 3 feet of each other, as before that I would have to be too loud in order to be heard.

windex's avatar

I always just say hello

in a different accent (cuz no one will ever know)

Sometimes the people do not say hi back. It used to bother me, but now I let it go. Too many ugly* people in this world…I don’t let it bother me.

*Not referring to physical attractiveness

Grisaille's avatar

@rooeytoo yeah… that’s usually how it goes

filmfann's avatar

I shout “What you lookin’ at fool? You challengin’ me? You want some o’ dis?”
Life is easier without social awkwardness.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@filmfann I’d like to meet with you down a dark alley one night! ;P

jessicamarie's avatar

1)Long hallway- Start runnig towards them if you have to tell them something…if you don’t then just look at something on the wall and pretend you didn’t see them
2)Short hallway- Smile and be the friendly person

SABOTEUR's avatar

I’m obsessed with hallway etiquette/protocol…whatever…!

Do yourself a favor.

Do whatever you feel like doing in the moment.

If someone feels slighted…SCREW ‘em…they’ll get over it.

Sounds harsh, but it’s no fun being obsessed over “greeting etiquette”.

Kayak8's avatar

This is actually one of those things that gets better with age. The other person may be there down the hall for many, many steps but I can’t see him or her until MUUUUUCH closer. When he/she is close enough to see then I say “Hi” or smile. I may still not be able to see the person well enough to recognize if I know him/her or not, so it is pretty much a standard greeting. Hence, no tense moments wondering what I am going to do . . . old age is great!

MRCLEAN's avatar

I will attempt to make eye contact. You can always tell when the person is going to be the type that will stare at the wall opposite of you just to avoid making eye contact. So when I make this determination I calmly pull my right hand out of my pocket and make a tight fist, right when they pass and continue to stare at the wall as if I were not there I punch the shit out of the back of their unsuspecting head! I hate rude people!

windex's avatar

Just a quick update on this question.

I have recently began doing this and I think all of you should too. (not just in hallways, but everywhere)

Now, after saying hello to ‘random passerbys, random neighbors, strangers, coworkers’ etc. I wait a few seconds, if they don’t say hello back, or response or at least acknowledge it, I say out loud, “I am taking my hello back”

It has been working great so far! Lets teach the word manners together.

nebule's avatar

@windex that sounds like an immensely brave and wonderfully yummy thing to do…although I’m not sure I have the guts??? :-/ x

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