The greetings controversy

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Moty, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. Moty

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    If I cross paths with a classmate in class, unless I want to ask/say something, I remain silent, make eye-contact and give a soft smile, which is received well (except by those who consider me "close" as they expect a conversation, unless I'm "having another bad day".)

    However, if I run into a classmate outside of class, usually I'm called into a conversation, something that doesn't happen when we cross paths in class! Unfortunately, if I run into that individual again many times out of class in the future, there's a growing expectation for me to "initiate a conversation for a change"; an expectation which isn't there when we cross paths class! If I give my consistent silence, eye-contact and soft smile, the eventual conclusion is I "expect others to always put in the effort", which can lead to my presence never being acknowledged as a revenge move. Except, no one went unacknowledged by me.

    Obviously my behavior upsets some people, but I find it strange that my consistency gets different reactions from the same people. Any advice on this? Who's being rude? Do you say hello to every classmate you cross paths with, whenever and wherever?
     
    #1 Moty, Aug 9, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  2. sunflower18

    sunflower18 Master of Naps
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    I'm a little bit confused by your question, but I'd say you should be a bit friendlier to avoid rubbing people the wrong way -- it's not going to be that much more effort for you to say, "Oh, hey -insert their name-! How's it going?" and it will make them feel appreciated and likely cause them to act friendlier towards you in return. I sometimes struggle with this as well, like I feel weirdly shy for no particular reason, but I really think that it's best to put effort into your greetings so that other people get a good vibe from you and so that they will return your enthusiastic greetings in the future.

    Hopefully that helped! Just my opinion, too -- feel free to disagree.
     
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  3. Moty

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    If you are dealing with a lot of people, it's going to require much effort I'm afraid. Being nice and trying to show how nice you are or can be are different things. The latter usually involves a lot pretense and ultimately inconsistency in behavior.
     
  4. 22031 Alum

    22031 Alum At the baby factory.
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    Think of it as being courteous or polite, rather than "nice." It's generally considered polite to verbally greet someone you know if you encounter them out in public. I don't think anybody expects a long, drawn-out conversation each time you see them out, and sometimes a verbal greeting isn't necessary. For example if either of you is engaged in another conversation, then eye contact and a nod in greeting is fine. But most of the time, a simple "Hey, how's it going?" or even just "Hi" should suffice. Your smile is acknowledging them, but just not in the way most people expect under most circumstances.

    Just wait until it's not classmates, but patients approaching you in public. Luckily for me, if someone starts approaching me with a small child I can generally assume I delivered it.
     
  5. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
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    When you're in class you see the same people over and over and you can't keep up with everyone. But when you see them outside it's nice to see a familiar face and to exchange some pleasantries. It costs no money to smile and say hi
     
  6. Moty

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    You changed my outlook. Thanks.
    I truly get overwhelmed when trying to keep up with classmates, so I'm relieved someone understands why. I'm a naturally consistent person, and for the first time I'm seeing why it might not always be a good thing.
     
  7. UCA2390

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    I have never consistently thought about how my greetings need to be "standardized" when it comes to classmates. I can see how this mechanism can work for some people though that struggle with social interaction/anxiety.

    If you're seeing people regularly and its a time issue to talk to them, the easiest mechanism to use to talk to people is to ask them about themselves. People LOVE talking about themselves. Ask them how their rotation is going, ask them if they saw that crazy email that the school sent, ask if they have checked out the new restaurant in town, if married/dating ask them about their spouse, how are your kids? Any plans for labor day? Etc. etc... ask them a question about themselves, tell them it was nice running into them, and be on your way!

    Good luck!
     
  8. Moty

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    No month goes without someone asking a strange question like why am I "so" sensitive or do I "even" go to parties etc. This are asked negatively, just to be clear.
    The issue ensuing here is the expectation to be that interactive next time we meet again, which since I'm very consistent (I have always found people who aren't questionable), means I'll be having a lot of conversations in future. That's why I hardly go deep at the first place. However, no way am I not going to ignore them.
     
    #8 Moty, Aug 9, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  9. sloop

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    I've never given much thought to this. Maybe the people at my med school are just not this sensitive.

    To be honest with you, though, I kind of have a personality where I don't have to deal with this much. I'm not a loner or even an introvert, really, but I just kinda have my own thing going on. I don't live in the immediate vicinity of my school like everyone else does so I don't see people when out and about much. I also don't go to many of the class social things because I usually prefer to spend my free time with my girlfriend or non-medical friends.

    Whenever people saw me in school, I'd usually be studying so they'd be the ones to approach me. I'd just say "hey" or if it looked like they wanted to talk "hey, what's up dude?"

    If people looked like they were walking with a purpose towards something important, I'd usually just smile or give a head nod. I never got any adverse reaction for doing this. I'm also a pretty laid back person though so this was probably expected behavior from me. I don't think anybody felt like I was trying to be mean.

    Basically my approach had two rules and a third that never got used:

    1) If you make eye contact, make some signal of acknowledgement.
    2) If someone appears to be approaching you, slowing down, or otherwise signaling they want to talk you should probably use a verbal greeting. If you do this, they will usually initiate a conversation if that's what they want.
    3) Never had someone straight up confront me about not greeting them or ignoring them, but if I did I would probably just apologize and explain that I didn't recognize them, had something else on my mind, was running late or something. I'd say I was sorry they felt ignored and that I didn't mean to make them feel that way. If someone holds a grudge after this, whatever. That's petty **** that nobody has time for.
     
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  10. Pacna

    Pacna Dyslexics, untie!
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    Yeah, I run into this problem sometimes. Usually I just say something like "hey how's it going?" then continue my conversation with the people I'm with, as if my question isn't really a question.
     
  11. pathologyDO

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    I feel the OP, sometimes when I'm tired or not in the mood to talk from just a lack of energy I will give the smile or nod. But you cannot do this indefinitely, otherwise people will think you just pretend to like them and really don't care about talking to them.

    Sometimes it's easiest to just verbally acknowledge them. If they're looking like a heat seeking missile that is going to explode on impact, you know that's not gunna work and you should at least ask THEM some questions and let them do the talking, believe it or not that usually suffices and let's them know you respect them and don't mind their company.
     
  12. italiancowgirl

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    A HUGE part of working in the medical field is collaboration with others and communication with both patients and co-workers. You keep talking about consistency like you can expect the world to be the same all the time. Each interaction is going to depend on the circumstance and the person, and many other factors. There will not be a lot of consistency. If you saw someone in class yesterday and now you spot them at the grocery store but you are with your friend, maybe you only need to give them a wave or a nod. But if you haven't seen someone for 3 months and you have each grown and changed they may ask what you are up to lately. The variables around the interactions are all so different. IMO, What you need to practice is reading different situations to help determine what kind of communication may be considered polite or friendly and what may be considered less than that. Maybe some time talking with a close friend about this will help you. SDN is not going to be very helpful because what you need to practice is more face to face interactions.
     
  13. italiancowgirl

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    It may not be easy, but it is the path you have chosen. Being too tired to talk occasionally may be acceptable, but all the time makes you seem uncaring (as the last poster mentioned).
     
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  14. UCA2390

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    "The issue ensuing here is the expectation to be that interactive next time we meet again, which since I'm very consistent (I have always found people who aren't questionable), means I'll be having a lot of conversations in future. That's why I hardly go deep at the first place. However, no way am I not going to ignore them."

    The fact that you genuinely feel this way is a bit concerning to me personally (which you have no reason to care about tbh). Most people can kind of tell the difference between sincerity and someone forcing it or disinterest in conversation. This might be why you have classmates questioning you. Its likely very apparent that you are disinterested/ following your consistent interaction protocol when talking with people. This might not bode well for your future patients perception of your empathy/relate-ability. I'd seriously re-consider the way you think about interacting with people. "The expectation to be that interactive" sounds kind of nutso to me! Im trying to be honest because you asked for advice. My advice is to talk with as many people/patients as possible and really put yourself out of your comfort zone.

    The feeling that people get when they say: "that guy rubbed me the wrong way" or "he just gave me weird vibes" or "just felt awkward" I feel are deeply seeded in our human intuition and not something you can easily cover, specially when your thinking in your head about how much social interaction is appropriate for given y=mx+b situation.
     
  15. Moty

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    I'd like you a lot. You're very relatable to me.
    I appreciate the honesty and can completely understand. Thanks.
     
  16. Moty

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    This made me a little sad. I understand the perception now.
     
  17. DokterMom

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    Are you perhaps a little bit Aspie? You seem to be asking this question from a very detached and analytical perspective, wondering what 'behaviors to implement to mitigate the negative consequences.'

    Just smile and say "Hi". Sometimes, change it up to "Hey" instead.

    One other thing that can help is self-talk. If you're thinking you're somehow blowing it socially or not coming across the way you want to, you're sabotaging yourself at the subtle, non-verbal level. When you see an acquaintance, try thinking to yourself "I like you and am really happy to see you!" That will shine through --
     
  18. royalmedicus

    royalmedicus royalmedicus
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    i never figured how to socialize well. i just dont know how this works. some say its natural so i guess i am born without that knowledge.
     
  19. ortnakas

    ortnakas DO PGY-1
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    I don't think this is limited to medical school-- I think saying "hi" to people you recognize (whether it's the setting you know them from or not) is pretty much a social standard.
     
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  20. clausewitz2

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    OP, the Internet these days has a multitude of explicit guides to social interaction that are aimed at folks who are like you and really need to formalize the process, lest they get stuck smiling vaguely and having no idea what to do or say next. These guides are more detailed and more comprehensive than SDN - I don't think any of the problems you are describing are medicine or med school specific.

    Also, I must echo those who are telling you striving for "consistency" will be counterproductive. It sounds like it is very frustrating to you, but it is a reality of social life that most people respond poorly to folks who have too obviously formalized their communication protocols.
     
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  21. Moty

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    I am not used to inconsistent/unpredictable behavior; it has always seemed fake to me to ignore me in class for 3 months and want to talk to me at the grocery, only to pretend the next day we didn't meet at the grocery store just yesterday! I don't know how to explain this. I see here how normal it is, so I'll work on it.
     
  22. clausewitz2

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    It may help to think of it less as "pretending" or being "fake" and more like "satisficing sociability under resource constraints." Namely, most people just can't keep track of the full details of exactly when and how they last met all of their acquaintances in exquisite detail, and frequently may fail to fully acknowledge someone not deliberately, but simply because they are preoccupied.

    Remember that people who aren't your good friends mostly don't care about you. I don't mean that in a bad way, just...they have their own stuff going on. If you look at it from that perspective the acknowledgements you get will seem more like them making an effort to remind you they don't hate you rather than a deliberate attempt to snub you.
     
  23. Kaustikos

    Kaustikos Archerize It
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    Maybe because in the hospital **** sucks and they don't want to talk. That's how I am sometimes
     
  24. HelpPleaseMD

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    lol. don't overthink this. geez it can't be that hard to say hi in the halls. why should everything be consistent and standardized. wouldn't it appear more "fake"??

    i cant believe this is a topic thought we had med school interviews for a reason.

    edit: if you havent started clinicals yet, its a good idea to change your outlook on "greetings". Normal social skills goes a long way
     
  25. ----------12c

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    Just get a custom made shirt that say's DON'T F**K'IN TALK TO ME! This will solve all of your problems.
     
  26. Moty

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    Thanks.
    To my credit, I give a heartfelt eye-contact and soft smile in the midst of the warm silence; surely there's hope for me.
     
  27. lhooq

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    Ah, the classic stop and chat.... Larry David understands your dilemma:
     
  28. On Eagle's Wings

    On Eagle's Wings To Make Man Whole
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    My class is full of very friendly people. Maybe that's just how the admissions committee picked this class, but we will stop and introduce ourselves to practically any medical student we run into that we don't know. Then comes the common questions like where are you from, etc. Even in class, we at least greet the people around you an introduce yourself to those you don't know yet. Our class as a whole is very supportive and amiable, so it shows in our interactions.
     
  29. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    What is this thread even about
     
  30. royalmedicus

    royalmedicus royalmedicus
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    i want to be in your class.
     
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  31. Moty

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    I would prefer this to ignoring one another in class, only to show interest out in public.
    I wouldn't mind it much.
    My reasoning differs: 'he knows me well enough, but only wants a stop and chat out of class!'
     
    #31 Moty, Aug 13, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
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