Embracing Civility

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You Say “Goodbye” and I Say “Hello”…or Not?

If you are a Beatles fan, the title of this post may stir you to hum the melody to their well-known song, Hello Goodbye.

“You say ‘Goodbye’ and I say ‘Hello, hello, hello. I don’t know why you say ‘Goodbye,’ I say ‘Hello.'”

So what’s that got to do with embracing civility? These days, it seems that the simple courtesy of saying hello and goodbye is disappearing. I started thinking about this recently when several of my acquaintances failed to sign off at the end of a telephone conversation. In my opinion, that comes too darn close to hanging up on someone…and that’s about as uncivil as a person can get.

Later that evening, I was watching some silly TV drama and, lo and behold, I noticed that each character’s cell phone call ended without a goodbye. The actor just pocketed his cell phone or dropped it in her purse. Now, I guess when it comes to TV, directors don’t want to waste air time having their characters say goodbye to each other. However, the practice seems to be spilling over into real life.

As for saying hello, that doesn’t happen much these days either. Why? I blame it on caller ID. Because people know who is calling before they answer the phone, they don’t bother with “old-fashioned” niceties. They simply jump into a conversation. For example, a conversation between two friends might go something like this:

Ringo calls Paul’s cell phone. Paul sees the caller ID, picks up the phone:

Paul: Watcha doing?

Ringo: Just banging on my drums.

Paul: Shall we get together later?

Ringo: Sure, what time?

Paul: How about 7:30?

Ringo: Perfect.

Paul: OK.

And, they both hang up.

Does this sound familiar? If not, keep an ear out for the next few days…and take note of how many conversations follow this pattern. Maybe you, too, have developed the same habit of skipping salutations.

Obviously, there are bigger issues in the world than whether people say hello and goodbye. But, personally, I am saddened that such simple greetings are going by the wayside. I can’t control what anyone else does, but I intend to continue “wasting time” by sandwiching my conversations between a cheerful “hello” and a pleasant “goodbye.” How about you?



  1. I could not agree more. This has always been a pet peeve of mine. i never let anyone address me at work until they have said “Good Morning”

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