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How Do You Greet Someone You Hate (But Have to Be At Least Kinda Civil To)?

Just ignoring them only makes you look bad

Last month, at former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral — an event that brought together a bunch of folks who, if given the opportunity, would in all likelihood consider poisoning one another — current President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama and his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, were forced to greet each other and shake hands and act as though the past 10 years of Trump’s racially charged behavior toward the Obamas never happened. Well, technically neither party was forced, but really, there was little alternative, and thus, we were left with a truly surreal couple seconds of what it looks like to greet someone who’s face you’d only like to see when being put through a meat grinder.

Of course, both Obamas, being the respectful type that they are, approached said scenario with grace and carefully feigned smiles. And frankly, Trump, likely realizing that anything other than a formal handshake would be unacceptable, also opted to approach said uncomfortability with an uncharacteristically subdued self. But the whole episode got us thinking: How do other people who aren’t under the microscope of a national broadcast greet someone they hate? What to do when running into that unpleasant in-law, that useless former boss or that utter dickweed Luke from high school? To find out, we asked a bunch of people, including an etiquette expert, a reality TV star and a retail worker how best to say “hello” when they’d rather say, “fuck you.”

Diane Gottsman, modern manners and etiquette expert: A greeting is a common courtesy you extend to someone at a social event, a business function or any other impromptu meeting when you run into someone face-to-face. By blatantly ignoring someone, even someone you dislike tremendously, I run the risk of coming across as uncomfortable and awkward rather than powerful and confident. Remember, no one else knows the backstory, so people around you will feel ill at ease and don’t understand your silence. A neutral hello is a better option, rather than complete silence.

Chickadee34, Yahoo! Answers: Just look them in the eye and cool-y say, “Hello_____” (call them by name), before turning away to converse with someone you *do* like, or excusing yourself entirely from the conversation circle. The reason you want to look them in the eye *and* call them by name is to show that, while you may dislike them, you aren’t intimidated by them, and you know perfectly well who — and *what* — they are.

Simon Gross, reality TV star: Hate is big word. Despise is better. And yes, over the last few years I’ve been faced with one or two individuals I’d rather see pushed under a bus. Most of the time, if approached with my worst nightmare, I go over — theatrical and loud — and say, “Hello darling, how are you?” All the showbiz patter, fake “darling,” but really thinking, in the words of Joan Rivers, “Go and fuck yourselves!” Once, at an event, someone said that I looked like a Pound Stretcher version of Louie Spence — I smiled sweetly and called security to have them removed!

Deleted reddit account: I say “Good morning…” or whatever is appropriate, then I say their first name, “Good morning, Rocky.” I hate it when people address me that way — it feels condescending, as if speaking to a child, or it seems like, “Hello, Newman.”

June S., retail specialist: Don’t be a bitch. I just say, “Hi,” in a deeper voice than I normally use to say hello, because I’m probably thinking about why I hate said person and I need to display dominance.

Chem3ng, redditor: Hides behind nearest pillar and curses silently.