It may sound surprising, but not everyone knows how to greet others. Whether you're approaching someone or someone has approached you, a greeting is an expression of pleasure in seeing them. It's an opportunity to show that they matter to you. A deliberate, friendly greeting establishes a good rapport and demonstrates that you are welcoming and easy to talk to.

Knowing how to greet others is a very simple social skill
Generally speaking, someone who doesn't know how to greet others doesn’t understand the importance of it. By not greeting someone in a friendly way, or by just ignoring them, you could be seen as rude, cold, disinterested or arrogant. If this is the case, it may cause others to stay away because they don't want to endure a poor reception. After all, who wants to greet someone only to receive an indifferent welcome? It's not at all inviting.

The method of greeting others varies from culture to culture. In some cultures, individuals smile, wave or shake hands while others bow or kiss. Greetings can also be situation specific and depend on the formality or informality of the occasion.

In many Western cultures, a greeting is as simple as smiling and saying a friendly "Hello." How well you know the other person and the type of relationship (personal or professional) that you have with them will determine how formal or informal you'll be.

Greet Others Warmly Every Time
Make a point of greeting others whenever you have the opportunity. If you’re not comfortable with saying anything more than a quiet ‘hello,’ you’ll probably not leave a very positive or lasting impression on the other person. In fact, you probably haven’t made an impression at all. This is fine if you don’t want to be noticed but if you want to be seen, acknowledged and remembered, learn to greet others in a way that makes them feel good.

If you need some practice to get your confidence up, try creating a mental scenario about how you'd like to greet others. It'll only take a minute to think through and will prepare you for the times when you bump into someone, walk into a meeting or go to a social event. Use the following example as a potential situation or change it to make the scenario more relevant to your life.

1. Think of someone you may bump into while at the food court for lunch.

2. Imagine greeting them with “Hello” or “Hi” – or use another phrase that is more appropriate as an opening greeting between you and that person.

3. Make a bit of small talk. Take an interest in the other person by asking how she's doing, how her day is going, or recall something from a previous conversation you've had with her, such as "How is the xyz project coming along?" It's not necessary to start a long conversation, especially if the meeting is by chance and time is limited, but instigating interesting small talk for a few minutes is usually fine and continues to reinforce a positive relationship.

4. End the conversation by saying something like "Have a good lunch. See you later." and go on your way. There's no need to linger, just short-and-sweet conversation and then move on.

This whole scenario may take 30 seconds to a couple of minutes. Once you’ve got a mental idea of how a greeting can unfold, take the next step and try it out “in real life.” You’ll see how easy it is.

Greeting is to Acknowledge Others
It's not necessary to have a long, drawn-out, detailed discussion when you casually bump into someone. The point is to acknowledge the other person and take an interest in how they're doing. If you want to have more than a passing greeting, arrange to have a chat over coffee or go to lunch with them the next day.

Also, to get into the habit, greet those you may not normally – such as the security guard in your building, the bus driver or receptionist. You don't have to carry on a conversation, a simple "good morning/afternoon" will suffice, although more would be good practice. If you know the person's name, add it into the greeting to make it more personal. This will help you become aware of your interactions and is an easy way to start acknowledging others.

The way you greet others contributes to the kind of ongoing relationship you’ll have with them. These brief interactions give lasting impressions and when you do them well, you’ll reinforce to others that you’re a friendly and socially skilled person.

Author's Bio: 

Laurie Wilhelm manages the Express Yourself to Success website, a one-stop e-source with information and techniques on communication skills, interpersonal skills, public speaking, networking and conflict resolution. Achieve your success by working effectively with others. Find out how you can boost your career and get a free eBook, What You Need to Succeed: Social Skills.