Today’s office environment requires workers to spend much of their waking hours together. It is not uncommon for employees to spend 10-12 hours per day in an office setting. You would expect that spending all this time together would engender some type of familial characteristics in our little group. Not necessarily so.
Some of us still take the time to say “Good Morning” as we encounter each other for the first time that day. However, there are still many who completely ignore this greeting or enter the room where others are already present and say nothing. At my office, our kitchenette is the main meeting room each morning, as employees go in to get coffee or tea. It is not uncommon for other employees to enter the room, see a few people, and completely disregard their existence.
For a long while, I thought that maybe it was just me. Maybe this was the office culture. However, having spoken to several of my co-workers, they have all expressed the same sentiment as I have. A few friends from various areas in the business sector have also indicated the same thing to me. Why don’t people just acknowledge each other’s presence when they enter the room?
It is an unwritten rule at my office to hold the electronic door open for anyone who is approaching from about 15 feet away. However, the other day I encountered a co-worker who looked directly at me and then quickly averted his eyes while allowing the door to close. I was practically 5 feet away from him! It was so blatantly rude that someone else, a few feet behind me, let out a gasp and chided him for his actions. The offending party only lowered his head and quickly continued on his way.
Similarly, the games that we play when approaching the elevators are nothing short of amusing. When one enters the elevator, the individual presses the appropriate button, and then his or her eyes quickly find the floor. If you, on the outside, start running towards the lift, you might find the doors closing in your face. So what many people (including myself!) do to avoid embarrassment, is to enter the lobby, judge how far they are from the elevator, and slowly walk towards it, fully expecting the doors to close long before we get there. Every now and then you’ll find the odd person who actually holds the doors open and confuses the rest of us.
Where did our manners go? We are walking past each other, not wanting to make eye contact. Are we guilty of something? It’s almost as if actually acknowledging the next person’s presence will bring about some kind of world tragedy.
Let’s try to overcome this. We don’t have to walk round addressing each other as “Mr.” and “Ms.” all day, but a simple “good morning” doesn’t cost anything.