One of the things that I refuse to accept and excuse is when people do not greet. That moment when you get an SMS from someone you haven’t spoken to all day and they launch straight into their story, without a simple ‘hello, how are you?’ or when someone walks into a room and goes about whatever it is that they came in to do, without bothering to greet whoever else might be in the room.
For me, it’s a non-negotiable; I insist on being greeted, to a point where I refuse to continue with the conversation if the person concerned does not greet first. I can never understand who the person figures they are speaking to, if they have not acknowledged you as the person they want to converse with.
I googled ‘the power of saying hello’ and this passage from www.torah.org summed it up in the best way possible for me.
The first thing to realize, which we certainly don’t always think about, is that when we greet people with a ‘good morning’, we are actually giving them a blessing. We are telling them that we hope they will have a good morning. This is why, if you ever meet a grumpy person who responds to your ‘good morning,’ with a line such as, ‘Who said it was good?’, the response, besides being rude, is actually inaccurate. We are not defining the morning by saying ‘good morning’ rather, we are offering a blessing that it should be a good morning.
All greetings are meant in this way. The classical ‘shalom aleichem’ means literally that ‘peace should be upon you’, an excellent blessing which we always need. We find, as well (Ruth 2:4), that when Boaz returns to his workers in the fields he says, “G-d should bless you!” That is his greeting, and his greeting is a blessing.
The explanation would appear to be that when we see a fellow human being, we are obliged to acknowledge his value and importance. People don’t usually say ‘hello’ to animals when they see them. This is why the Talmud (Brachos 6b) describes the neglect to greet someone as stealing; you steal his pride when you don’t acknowledge his worth as a person with a greeting. But even in the greeting, you display your respect for the person even more when you offer him a blessing that he should succeed, that things should go well, that he should have a ‘good morning.’
And the way in which we greet someone is also important. Ethics of the Fathers (1:15) tells us to greet people with a shining countenance. The Hebrew phrase used there is ‘sever panim yafos’, which literally means a thoughtful, pleasant face. We are not supposed to give someone a quick hello; rather, we should give them eye contact, thought, and genuine loving attention.”
It takes all of 10 seconds to greet someone properly and ask them how they are. We must never be too busy or too preoccupied and wrapped up in our own situations and thoughts to take those few seconds just to acknowledge someone. Give someone that blessing and acknowledge their existence; all it takes is ‘hello’.