How To Respond To ‘Hi’

How to respond to “hi” often depends on your relationship with the person. It may be a stranger you will never see again.

It may be someone trying to break the ice and get to know you. Perhaps it is someone you know casually or a good friend.

Even when you are in a hurry, try to respond to ‘Hi’ with a smile, make eye contact, and a concise sentence like: “Hi, nice to see you.” If you are interested in a conversation, you can say: “Hi, how are you today?”

Always Greet Back

Not saying hi back to someone is considered rude behavior. No one is ever too busy to complete this simple gesture to others.

Your interaction may be nothing more than a hi back to them. It can be a way for you to get to know them or it may be the start of a long-term friendship. It can also be a way to reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in a while.

You may like to keep work and outside relationships separate. That is acceptable, but you should also be friendly and polite to co-workers.

When they say hi to you in the parking lot, as you pass at work, or even when you see them out in public, make sure you are kind back to them.

Such a small effort can play a role in how comfortable you feel around each other when you work together.

Keep it Simple

You may be in a hurry, and it is fine to keep the interaction simple. Say hi back and be on your way if you don’t have time to visit.

Perhaps it isn’t someone you would like to get to know better either.

Don’t give them the impression you do by chatting, say hi, and go about your business.

It is rude not to say hi back though when someone makes the effort to do so to you.

What to Say:

“Hi, how is your day going?”

“Hello, how are you?”


“Hi, it is a gorgeous day for a walk, isn’t it?”

“Hi, wow. The coffee must be great here, the line is out the door!”

Start a Conversation

When someone says hi, you have the opportunity to start a conversation with them. Pay attention to their body language.

Are they saying hi in passing? If so, allow them to continue on their way.

If you are in line with them or they aren’t in a hurry to keep going, strike up a conversation. It is a great way to gather information and to get to know new people.

What to Say:

“Hi, I am so excited about the concert beginning.”

“Hi, this is a lovely venue. I haven’t been here before.”

“Hello, the artwork is amazing, I am blown away.”

“Hi, I hope your day is going well.”

“Hi, there! Isn’t this place something?”

When you choose to start a conversation after someone says hi, it won’t always continue from there. Some will give you a one- or two-word response and that is the end of the interaction.

Others will talk to you a bit and you can get to know them. It is fun to meet new people and to interact with them so give it a chance when the opportunity arises.

Strangers vs. Those you Know

The conversation you will start depends on where you are and what is taking place. It should be befitting of the location and surroundings. Try to keep it positive.

For example, if you are at the airport due to a delayed flight, complaining about it isn’t what others want to hear. Talk about where you are going, what you plan to see, or ask them about themselves.

Keep it upbeat so they want to interact with you.

The conversation will depend on if they are strangers or people, you already know. With strangers, you can ask basic questions because you don’t know anything about them.

With someone you know, you can interact on a personal level. They will appreciate you remembering certain things too. This tells them you were listening when they shared with you before.

What to Say (to a Stranger):

“Hi, I hope you are enjoying your visit here. There is so much to see and do and the hotel is very nice.”

“Hi, how is your day going?”

“Hello. This menu has so many choices, and everything smells good in here. It is hard to decide, what are you having?”

“Hello, this park is amazing, have you been here before? I love the trails and the duck pond.”

“Hi, your children are adorable and very well-mannered.”

What to Say (to Someone you Know):

“Hi, it is good to see you! How was your vacation? I saw a few photos you shared on Facebook!”

“Hello, how is your daughter doing? Is she settling in at college? How are you adjusting?”

“Hi, how is the project going? I know you are working long hours to meet the deadline. It is very exciting to see it taking shape!”

“Hi, you look wonderful! This is a lovely event, and I am glad you came.”

“Hello, how are you? It has been too long since we have seen each other. How about we schedule lunch soon and get caught up?”

Use their Name

When you know someone, try to use their name when you reply. They may say hi, and they will appreciate you remembering who they are.

It may be someone in a class you are taking or someone you work with. It may be the spouse of someone you know or even their child.

Saying their name shows you remember them, and it makes the interaction more personal.

When you use their name, you can choose to keep it simple and say hi. You can also use that as an intro to have a conversation with them.

It depends on the relationship and the amount of time you have to interact.

What to Say:

“Hi, Jason. Good to see you.”

“Hi, Michelle. Are you ready for your wedding coming up soon? I am so excited for you!”

“Hello, John. Can you believe the temps dropped about 20 degrees from yesterday? So much for fall, winter is on the way.”

“Hi, Kim. I appreciate the extra effort you have put forth for our busy season. It is great to have employees willing to do what it takes to get it all done.”

“Hi, Melissa. How is your day going?”

Ask a Question

Asking a question when someone says hi can help you gain information. It can also help you to break the ice with them.

You may never see them again, but why not be polite and friendly during your time in the same space? It may be the start of a friendship you never saw coming!

When you ask questions, be respectful. Don’t ask anyone something that could offend them.

Try to keep controversial issues out of it.

What to Say:

“Hi, glad to see our flight is taking off on time. Are you heading to New York for fun or business?”

“Hello. Are you from this area? Do you know any great places to go eat close by?”

“Hi. This is a lovely beach; do you know much about it?”

“Hello, would you like to go ahead in front of me? I see you only have a few items and I have a cart full.”

“Hi, this is a packed house for the football game! Have you been to a game here before?”

Compliment Them

A sincere compliment when you say hi back to someone goes a long way. It can give them a boost of confidence. It can improve their day.

Think of something that fits them uniquely.

If you know someone, that can be easier than if they are a stranger. If they are a stranger, you can compliment them on something they wear, physical appearance, or something you observe.

What to Say:

“Hi, it was nice for you to offer that gentleman your seat when he got on the train.”

“Hello, I love your scarf. The design of it is very attractive.”

“Hi, your boots look comfortable, and they are the perfect match for your outfit.”

“Hi, I see you are very patient with your kids. It is wonderful to see that!”

“Hi, I love your handbag.”

Smile and make Eye Contact

When someone says hi, respond with a smile and make eye contact.

A smile shows you are approachable and helps them to relax. Eye contact shows them you are paying attention.

Avoid being on your phone or looking down when you walk around places. Always be aware of your surroundings and others.

You can decide if you wish to do more than say hi back to them. Strive to make the interaction friendly and warm.

You never know what others are dealing with in their day. Some kindness goes a long way. They have made the effort to say hi, now it is your turn to reciprocate!

What to Say:

“Hi, have a nice day.”

“Hi, stay warm out there!”

“Hi, be careful, the roads are a mess right now.”

“Hello, it was nice to meet you today.”

“Hello, thanks for taking the time to make me feel welcome here.”