Category Archives: Greetings

A Taxonomy of Greetings

The Nigerian Scam Greeting

The Nigerian Scam Greeting is one designed to fleece gullible, well-intentioned individuals of their hard-earned cash.

The greeting begins: “Dearest friend, best beloved, sir/madam, this may come as a surprise, but my dearly departed great uncle’s neighbor’s dog’s best friend’s in-law’s pet rock left him US $48,000,000 in stocks, bonds, gold and cowry shells that he wishes to leave to you, if you will only forward US $2,500 to my surprisingly anonymous bank account.”

“Due to United National UNICEF Federal Ministry of Financial Financey Finance’s legal mumbo jumbo, section A.B.123, this must be kept top-secret and you should contact me urgently, instantly and immediately.”

Just don’t make a fool of me!

You’d think that people are on to these, the classic Nigerian Scam greetings, but apparently, in 2014, it was an $84B industry! Jikes.

The Urgent E-Mail that Disappeared Non-Greeting

The Urgent E-Mail that Disappeared Non-Greeting is a communication that goes up in smoke. Poof!

This has happened: You send an urgent, important, critical e-mail to eight people because (a) they all need to weigh in on the material, (b) they’ve all explicitly stated that they need to weigh in on the material (c) if they don’t weigh in on the material, they’ll be upset, and freak out, and send big, bad thunder your way and (d) all know that the deadline is impending, urgent, and omg, immediate-yesterday.

What happens? Not one of the group responds! Not a tweet, not a syllable in reply. Radio silence.

Why? Because they all have (a) 328 other e-mails to respond to; (b) all 328 e-mails required a reply-yesterday and (c) really, the Thing Wasn’t That Urgent After All.

Best bet? Re-send!

The Single Kiss

The Single Kiss Greeting

All who like kissing, pay attention! In some parts of the work, kisses are as normal as an American handshake…and it isn’t only amongst “them silly youth”. In Mexico, everyday greetings are sealed with a single kiss to the cheek. “Hola!” says ones, with a kiss; “Qué tal!” says the other, with a kiss in return. In Roman times, kisses in greeting were even more-ahem-explicit: a kiss to the mouth betwixt friends of equal rank was the status quo. Redditors say: eew!

Though those Romans might have had something going, culture has its swings. In fact, kisses were, for a time, a bit of a sin. Yuk. Imagine that: kissing a sin! Good word, then, media must sin with the best of ‘em. Ha!

The Kodak Moment

The Kodak Moment

So picture perfect that it’s plastic — like a politician! The Kodak Moment greeting happens when the person you wish to greet notices your approach, stops, poises, and awaits. Yes, awaits you, hands on hips like a triumphant Napoleon or Washington, or soon-to-be-ousted shady CEO, for you must walk… to them.

If Kodak had selected a picture-perfect post, this would be it. GQ models, shudder. Dishonest politicians, take note! This is your model.

Give Dap

The Dap Greeting: Known Secret Handshake

Rad! This greeting happens when two people mutually understand how to move their hands and bodies in unison so as to signify membership in the same subculture or group. Unlike other greets, we can trace the origin of this guy. Specifically, the term (and practice) of giving dap (or “Known Secret Handshake”) originated during the Vietnam war as a way for soldiers to signify their solidarity. 

Nowadays, it’s definitely an act of solidarity for your own little subgroup to have its own dap handshake. World leaders have them. How about you? Don’t have one yet? Get on the dap train! Invent and spread your known secret handshake today! 


The Exhaust

The exhaust occurs when one emerges from a stressful situation and needs to relieve their frustrations. It’s typified by a lack of formal opening. Instead, the greeter opts for a direct exhalation of their pent-up frustrations, which pour forth like terrible slam poetry or song lyrics about tunafish. “Can you believe… “ and “Guess what just happened…” or typical openings, and also, typically, the greeter will not wait for a response.

He or she will simply continue to pour forth ranting, rambling and raving until such time as something else distracts their attention, or they run completely out of words.

Here’s a question for the psychologists out there: What is the psychological or cognitive root-the state-that gives rise to the saying that one is  “So angry they can’t speak?” (Watch clip for ~10 secs to see example). I did find this discussion of anger and systems/shutdown, but perhaps there are other explorations?

Unwanted Greeting

The Most Unwanted Greeting

Go away! Scram! Be gone! The unwanted greeting is the greeting given to the busy, distracted or otherwise focused person. Imagine trying to greet a neurosurgeon while she’s operating on little Timmy’s prefrontal cortex, or a nuclear submarine driver while they are steering through a narrow trench to confound their frenemy.

The greeter, nonetheless, greets the neurosurgeon, which distracts her from her work. Little Timmy wakes up with the ability to smell colors. And, this greeter, despite the situation, greets the sub driver. The driver falters, and the submarine accidentally enters Captain Nemo’s cave.

Yes, this is an unwanted greeting given at the most inopportune time. Sometimes, the outcome is detrimental… and sometimes, one might find gold!

The Entirely Appropriate Greeting

The Entirely Appropriate

A greeting in which both the greeter and greeted would rate the quality of their as greeting “nice” on a scale of one to five, with one as “omg bodily repulsive” and five as “why I live, breathe and write passionate, but poor poetry about red roses”. My 8th grade English teacher railed against the word “nice” for, in her opinion, it expressed nothing of descriptive value. I agree!

The Greeting Denied

The Greeting Denied

Full of passionate hope, a greeter seeks acknowledgement by a greetee. The greeter makes wide-eyed contact and gives the kind of hopeful expression a child might use when seeing Bambi, a shiny toy on the shelf of a store, or a jelly donut. But it’s not to be, for despite eye contact, the greetee distinctly turns their back in such a way to deny further communication.

“Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear / No one comes near”

Wow. Rejection and loneliness are a terrible; so state Cacioppo et al (2009) by writing that “[t]he health, life, and genetic legacy of members of social species are threatened when they finds themselves on the social perimeter.” In fact, rejection and loneliness lead to both emotional and physical pain which, in turn, can have a significant detrimental impact on how individuals perform on a variety of tasks. Including life, for lonely individuals don’t live quite as long (Luo et al, 2012).

Coping mechanisms? Let’s start with the meanie who turned their back. “You! Yes, you! Stand still laddy… ” and be a charitable fellow! Next time, say hi. Rejected person, what do you do? If the fellow isn’t charitable, make like a presidential candidate and kick ’em in the behind. Or don’t, because that would require stooping very  low indeed. But, do buck up and find better friends.

Cacioppo, J. T., & Hawkley, L. C. (2009). Perceived Social Isolation and Cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(10), 447–454. Online here.

Luo, Y., Hawkley, L. C., Waite, L. J., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2012). Loneliness, Health, and Mortality in Old Age: A National Longitudinal Study. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 74(6), 907–914. Online here.

The TMI Greeting

A greeting in which one party (or the other; greeter or greeted) exchange information that is personal, private or uncomfortable in nature: “Hey, didja hear about my kidney function?” or “Wow, that lunch burrito went the wrong way”. This, you might say, elicits a disgust response.

What is disgust? It’s a response that “ …caus[es] us to recoil from reminders of our animal nature.” The appropriate reaction to a TMI greeting? Try one of benign masochism; that is, laugh at the icky thing one has been told so as “… take pleasure in the fact that [one] can rise above… animal instincts” (Rozen et al, 1999). But then, that’s rather animal too; and doesn’t show much compassion. You choose.

Rozin, P., Haidt, J., & McCauley, C. R. (1999). Disgust: The body and soul emotion. Handbook of cognition and emotion, 429-445