Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Saying hello (part one)

"Saying hello... creates a world... in which saying 'hello' is possible."

Those are the words of Dr. Richard Heyman, professor of the Qualitative Research Methods class I'm taking. He said them to us in our first class a month ago, and has repeated them various times since.

That first class, he said something to the effect of, “Think about it… If you normally say hello to someone, you almost always say hello to them. And then, if one day, you don’t… what happens? What do they think?”

We talked about the various possibilities of what people might think and why, without coming to any particular conclusion. (That was part of the point, I think…that there was no conclusion.)

I’m going to put this out there for discussion… How do you say hello? Do you say the word, “Hello!”, "Hi!", “Hey...”, “Wazzup?” Do you give a nod of the head? Shake hands? Kiss? Do you have a signature hello? Does your “hello” vary from person to person, and context to context?

What makes you say that first “Hello!” (in whatever way you do that) to someone?

I’ve thought about this a good deal in the past month, but for now, I’m not going to say any more than that. Watch this space for part two though… And for the moment… I’m inviting your feedback. What do you think?


madcapmum said...

That's a very interesting train of thought, and now I've gone off on a tangent into the blogosphere. What makes some people "say hello" when others lurk? And why do I lurk sometimes, and "out" myself other times?

Looking forward to Part II.

M A F said...

I am not sure where to begin, as there are moments where a vocal "hello" is appropraitely used on intimate friends and complete strangers.

While I from time to time use the head nod, I am not sure how I would define its use as it too varies. I would say that I tend to nod my head more to fellow cyclists as we pass one another.

The moments that I am most perplexed by are those times when I allow a perfectly wonderful opportunity to say hello to a stranger, a passer-by, as we pass one another. In those moments I always ask myself what was it about the situation that prevented the exchange of a cordial greeting.

CM said...

I completely vary my greeting depending on the person, the place, the other people around, and even the time of day. If it's morning, first thing at work, I usually say "Good morning" instead of "Hello." A majority of the people who work at my place of employment say hello in the halls even when they don't know you, as you pass them. Then, I usually say "Hi." If it's someone I know, who is on my level of authority, or lower, I usually say more, like "Hello, how's it going" or something like that. If it is someone above my level of authority, I wait for them to say hello first, which they usually do, and I usually say Hello back, followed by their name. "Hello Jim". I have no friends where I live who are at the level that I would hug or kiss upon greeting, although I have these back in Canada. Usually my "hello" is more exuberant when I haven't seen someone in a longer time. As opposed to the daily "Oh, it's you again" type of hello. And then, there are people I'd rather not say hello to, but I do anyway, out of an obligation of politesse. Again, usually work related. Are you sorry you asked now? :-)

Damien said...

In New Zealand the greeting methods amoung Maori (and I'm Maori) are pretty similar. Although on a Marae (traditional meeting place) the greetings are highly formal. Usually starts with a hand shake, and then you press noses (hongi). Sounds strange but it symbolisis an exchange of life force, and trust. Think the Inuit do the same thing?

voixdange said...

I love this post. It has made me think and perhaps freed me a little. Because i have been through extreme emotional abuse in my life, sometimes it is very difficult for me to say hello. People comment that I say hello and drop my eyes and look down, and that it doesn't allow them to say hello back. When I put it in writing, it does kind of sound like the reflexes of a whipped dog... Once people get to know me and I feel safe around them they comment that I am very warm and loving, but getting past that intro is a challenge. I love the first line of the post, it really challenges me to get over it and become someone who has a creative effect on the atmosphere I am a part of rather than a responses one.

voixdange said...

oops, I meant responsive.

Amber said...

Time for some introspective thinking here. I realized while reading your post that rarely do I have an opportunity to greet other people. We moved to Cedar Rapids one year ago and have yet to make friends. Part of that is because the month that we moved here winter set in and we pretty much hibernated all winter. Then when spring hit, we found out that we would be moving again. Who wants to make friends right before a move? Thank God, the move is happening at the end of this month so we can finally get into a real routine again.

I am a SAHM and we stay home often. The places that I go on a regular basis are the store, the park and running. I don't think anybody really says hello at a store. Imagine saying hello to everyone you ran into at a store?!?

At the park, it's more then a quick hello. It's more like hello, I'm here, talk to me pleeaaaseee!!!

Then there's running. I think I greet others most while running. Passing each other by. If it's in the morning I'll usually just say a quick 'morning'. If I'm getting tired it's smile and a quick nod. Once it's past noon, I'm out of my realm. 'Afternoon' doesn't flow off the tongue as easily as 'morning' does so past noon it's mostly the smile and a quick nod.

What a boring life I lead ... currently!

sissoula said...

All these variants on hello are valid -- and useful. They make you feel good, sure, but they're usually just a matter of following convention; rarely does a hello provide a real opportunity to share a world with someone.

I used to have a friend who laughed at the way I answered the phone. ("Hello?") It's a greeting, he'd say, not a question.

But maybe a question is implied, regardless of what inflection you give it.

Anonymous said...

I tend to use hello and hi interchangeably with people, but perhaps in more formal situations hello is more appropriate. Hi seems to have more familiarity for some reason.

Good morning seems to be reserved for work alone. That's what they say, so I follow the norm there.

"Hey" is very informal and reserved mostly for my male buddies. I don't think I use "hey" very much for women. It stems from the informal greeting given to old junior or high school buddies. It still sticks with me today.