Morning Greetings

I am constantly surprised when people abuse morning greetings. Perhaps they had poor childhood modeling or perhaps it is their personality. But morning greetings are not a time to tell us how you feel!

It is amazing how many different ways people can inflect the simple words “Good Morning”. This post would be best done as a podcast where I could imitate all the varieties. But imagine people at your place of employment who creatively insert their feelings into the simple words “Good Morning” and add things like:

  • God, I’m so damn tired.
  • Yeah ‘good’ for whom?  Life sucks right now.
  • I wish I weren’t here!
  • I feel crappy.
  • I hate this place.
  • I had a horrible night sleep.
  • Damn, I hate these cramps.
  • Sure, life is great for you — who cares!

“Poor me” greetings are OK if they are rare, but some people are chronic abusers of the courtesy agreement behind morning greetings.  I have explained this to my children a few times, and given a few of our younger employees a talk on the purpose of “Morning Greetings”;

 “Look,” I’d say, “everyone has shit going on in their lives. It is arrogant and selfish to assume it is just you who is unhappy on any morning. Our morning greetings are a way to acknowledge our common walk through life, to be polite for just a moment during yet another day and acknowledge that your feelings are not the center of the world.”

Some people get it, some don’t.

If nothing else, we should certainly remember courtesy in our morning greetings — this is a good place to begin the practice of remembering others. Thoughtfulness is hard to do all day long, but we can use morning greetings as a time for awareness: a time to hold up the feelings of others for a five-seconds.

(Note to readers: I have moved the part about harsh comments to the next post because they were separate issues.)


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

13 responses to “Morning Greetings

  1. TWF

    I mostly agree, especially with the overall theme of the post, but not completely.

    If it’s someone I know well, or the people I work closely with, I would rather get an honestly intoned “Good Morning” in whatever flavor is appropriate for them at the time. It helps me understand how they are feeling and if there are problems I should inquire of and possibly help them work through, or if they are just a bit tired at the moment, and so maybe that opens the door for conversation as to why, to view them more completely as a fellow human than as just a co-working cog in the machine.

    However, for more casual acquaintances and strangers, I totally agree.

  2. Yeah, I agree with your caveat — sort of. But I still think the most mature way to do it is to give a healthy “Good Morning” and then let people know your feelings more directly. But that may be asking too much.

  3. This reminds me of what Covert Bailey once said: don’t you hate it when you ask people how they’re doing, and then they tell you! 😉

    I agree that at work we need to be professional; although this sounds like a war between morning and night owls. My coworker and I are very close and we’re both night owls. (I go to bed at 10 pm but I have chronic low blood pressure, so I am definetly cranky in the am).

    As a night owl, what I most want is to NOT be chatted with in the morning. I do say “good morning” to 99 percent of my coworkers. But if I trust someone, I might comiserate if they also hate mornings.

    Men don’t get to complain when women express pain about their cramps. Sorry. 😉

    Very good point that there’s a human being on the other end of the comment box. I often preface my words with “I’m not trying to be a jerk here……”, that almost always makes for a very civil debate.

  4. exrelayman

    Rejoinders to Good Morning: Says who? /Wanna bet? / Bah Humbug! – oops, since Scrooge, the last one is totally yesterday.

    Is Good Morning a claim or a query? The responses vary accordingly. Good Morning may not be optimal (it would have been nice if our ritual greeting was something like Wishing You Well) but it beats the heck out of Get Lost.

    But I mean, what the heck are ya sposed to say, something like Have you reviewed Keplar’s Laws lately?

  5. This is a lovely post, Sabio. I very much enjoyed it.

  6. @ amelie :
    Smile, concerning morning people and cramps.
    I guess saying “I’m not trying to be a jerk here……” but then say, “but you are a stupid fool”, then the word “civil” still does not apply. Prefaces like that, or smilies only work if the content is civil. 🙂

    @ exrelayman :

    @ the warrioress :

  7. I totally hate this. Morning greetings are meant to be completely empty because everyone (well, maybe just me) is sleepy and a wee bit on the grumpy side and just needs some coffee before getting down to stronger emotions.

  8. @ James,
    Exactly what do you totally hate?
    Do you hate giving morning greetings? Do they seem like perfunctory nonsense to you?
    Do you feel I was saying that you greeting needs to be filled with joy, love and exuberance?
    Well, don’t write back until you wake up, grumpy! 🙂

  9. Dexter

    Morning Greetings – its all about the superficial ritualistic behaviors that gives us the necessary ‘warm and fuzzies’ to make it through the day.
    The sugar of life.
    They make us feel good, make others feel important or needed; but only lasts a few seconds. Then you have the the sugar crash,,, the in depth and needless responses that will leave you more mentally exhausted.

  10. @ Dexter,
    I agree. So we start with a little sugar and the follow-through is drastically important.

  11. I once belonged to a business leads group that met every Tuesday morning at 7:00. Imagine a room of 30 or so people pumping hands with big grins on their faces and, when asked how they were, would exclaim “Awesome!” or “Fantastic!” I’m not a morning person nor am I given to hyperbole, but I did my best at being cordial and upbeat.

    But there was one meeting, while I was suffering through the pain of a herniated disk, a guy named Joel approached me, hand extended, and greeted me with the customary “Good morning! How are you today?”

    I shook his hand, looked straight at him and said, “Horrible.”

    Confusion crossed his face and he said, “Oh…” He turned and walked away.

    I guess I should have said, “Fabulous, Joel!. And how are you?”

  12. @ Paul,
    Right, I get that.
    Here is how I have done it. “Morning, Joel! Yeah, I am not doing well this morning– bad back pain– have you ever had it before?”
    Or something like that.
    In other words, still cordial, but honest. I would try to avoid using the moment to make fun of the greeting, or its superficiality or to embarrass the other person — well, at least not on a stronger day. 🙂
    I still contend that greetings are good things and how we learn to move with them in light of their obvious shortcomings is a mark of our minds.

  13. Steve Schuler

    Some years ago I encoutered the notion that one should never tell others about the hardships they were experiencing in life. Firstly, about half the people you tell don’t care at all about your problems. Secondly, the remainder are all to delighted to know that you are experiencing trouble!

    So, manners aside, I prefer to deprive those mean hearted folks who might gain some pleasure from my pain that small bit of joy in their day. I know, it’s a bit selfish of me, but what can I say?

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