“Hi” is one of the most common greetings in English. It’s said when you first see someone, and usually, you’re expected to say “hi” back.
However, what happens if you don’t say “hi” back? Is it rude not to greet someone?
This article will explain whether it’s rude not to say “hi” back.
Is It Rude Not to Say “Hi” Back?
It is rude not to say “hi” back when someone has greeted you. “Hi” is a very simple and polite greeting. A simple “hi” in reply is the least you can do to show that you’ve heard and accepted someone’s polite introduction.
Of course, when you say hi and get ignored, it can be quite confusing. It’s especially difficult to understand if they’re a close friend and you feel like they’ve completely ignored you.
Generally, it’s rude to ignore someone saying “hi.” However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, people might have other things going on that might cause them to forget about the simple “hi.”
It is rude to ignore someone who says hi first. We always recommend (at the very least) responding with “hi.”
You don’t have to say much more than “hi” if you don’t want to. For instance, if you don’t like the other person very much, there’s nothing wrong with just saying “hi” and ending the conversation.
Why Would Someone Not Say “Hi” Back?
So, why would someone not say “hi” back? Well, there could be any number of reasons that prevent someone from greeting you.
Here are a few reasons why someone might not reply:
- They are busy
- They’re thinking about something else
- They did not hear you
- Someone else spoke to them
- You did not hear them
The reasons for someone not saying “hi” back are innocent enough. Usually, it’s best to give someone the benefit of the doubt and not immediately assume that they’re being rude.
With that said, if it’s clear someone has completely ignored your “hi,” then they probably don’t want to talk to you.
When you say hi to someone, and they ignore you, they are rude. There’s no other way to sugarcoat it. If they acknowledged your “hi” but didn’t reply, it’s best to let it go.
What to Do When People Don’t Say “Hi” Back
Finally, it’s worth exploring what you can do when people don’t say “hi” back. We want to start by saying it’s never wise to be rude to them, even if they were rude to you.
Here are some things you can say or do when someone doesn’t say “hi” back:
- Don’t do anything
- Never mind, then
- Have a good day
- I hope you have a nice day
- It was nice to see you
- All the best!
- Say “hi” again
1. Don’t Do Anything
The best thing to do when someone doesn’t reply to you is to let it go. There’s no reason to start a fight with someone because they simply forgot to say “hi.”
Remember, there are countless reasons why someone might not say “hi” back.
There could be something much more pressing happening in their lives. You never truly know what’s going on with someone, so it’s best not to pressure them into replying.
Be the bigger person and let it go. If you say “hi” and they don’t, it’s time to move on. Just accept that they might not have heard you or aren’t in the mood to talk.
2. Never Mind, Then
While it’s a bit more passive-aggressive, “never mind, then” is a fun phrase to use. When someone doesn’t reply to you saying “hi,” this could be a good one to catch their attention.
It’s quite an abrupt phrase. It shows you’re unhappy that someone ignored you when you were trying to be nice.
Generally, this will catch the other person’s attention quickly. If they didn’t hear you say “hi,” they’ll most likely apologize.
- You: Hi, Matt!
- You: Never mind, then!
- Matt: Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t even realize you were standing there!
3. Have a Good Day
You should try your best to keep things civil when someone doesn’t reply. Remember, you don’t know what’s going on in their life. It’s best to be positive, even if you think they’re rude.
A great way to remain positive when someone doesn’t say “hi” back is “have a good day.”
It shows you want the person to enjoy their day, even though they ignored you.
This could be a good way to catch their attention as they walk by. It might encourage them to reconsider their response and try to avoid being rude themselves.
- You: Hi!
- You: Okay, have a good day.
- Them: Thank you! I hope you have a good day, too. Sorry, but I’m in a rush.
4. I Hope You Have a Nice Day
Another great way to remain positive and friendly is with “I hope you have a nice day.” It’s a polite farewell message that goes a long way if you don’t plan on talking to someone again.
So, if someone ignores your “hi,” this could work. It lets them know that there are no hard feelings and you aren’t offended that they didn’t reply.
Again, there are plenty of reasons why someone may forget to say “hi” back. So, a simple “I hope you have a nice day” could remind them about your original “hi.”
From there, they might talk to you further. Keeping things pleasant is a great way to encourage more positive conversations.
- You: Hi, there!
- You: I hope you have a nice day.
- Them: Sorry about that! I wasn’t paying much attention to what was happening around me!
5. It Was Nice to See You
We recommend trying “it was nice to see you” to defuse a situation. If someone doesn’t say “hi,” “it was nice to see you” can show that you don’t think they are rude.
When someone hears you say “it was nice to see you,” they’ll feel more inclined to respond.
It’s a great way to set up a more polite conversation with your peers. You should certainly try it the next time someone forgets to say “hi” after you’ve spoken to them.
Here is an example showing you how it works:
- You: Hello!
- You: It was nice to see you.
- Them: Oh, it was nice to see you, too! Sorry, I’ll be more attentive when I see you next!
6. All the Best!
You’ve probably come across “all the best!” before. It’s a polite and friendly exclamation. Most people use it at the end of emails or letters, but it also works in spoken situations.
For instance, you can say “all the best!” when someone doesn’t say “hi” back. It shows you want to wish them well, even if they didn’t originally reply to you.
That way, you will ensure that the other party hears your kind words. They should be happier to reply once you’ve given them a more positive phrase like “all the best!”
- You: Hey!
- You: All the best!
- Them: Oh, hey! Sorry, I’m in a world of my own!
7. Say “Hi” Again
Finally, there’s nothing wrong with saying “hi” again. After all, it may just be that the other party didn’t hear you.
You can repeat “hi” if someone isn’t paying attention. It shows you’d like to greet them again, even if they didn’t notice you the first time.
Of course, if they proceed to ignore your second “hi,” there may be something deeper going on.
Here’s an example to show you how it might catch someone’s attention:
- You: Hi!
- You: Hi.
- Them: Hey, man! How have you been?
As you can tell, it might just be a simple case that they didn’t hear you. Repeating “hi” is a great way to check whether someone deliberately ignored you or simply didn’t hear.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.