Saving Face (In Which a Co-Worker Shares a Brilliant Invention)

Blown off, ignored, snubbed. We’ve all been there, no matter how self-assured we might be. From across the Street or the office, you ask someone a question or simply say “Hello,” and the response … is a cool nothing.  The person continues to walk past, with no acknowledgement whatsoever of your greeting. Nine times out of 10, they actually aren’t hearing you or they assume you are talking to someone else (right?).

Still, it’s not a good feeling. And at least in my case, it’s less about getting a response from the person you are addressing and more about the fact that other observers – co-workers, friends, strangers on the street – may have witnessed you soliciting (and being denied of) human interaction.

Enter the simple yet brilliant invention of my co-worker Carlos. This invention is so clever, you may find yourself secretly wanting people to ignore you once in a while, just so you get to employ it.

It goes a little something like this:

 Self: “Hey Mary” (or any form of greeting or question)

Mary: ::passes you with zero acknowledgement::

Self: “That’s cool, I’ll talk to you later…”


Self: “What’s your lunch plan, Johnny?”

Johnny: :glides past obliviously:

Self: “All right, catch you later, you’ve got stuff to do…”

A small and aloof phrase like this can put control back in one’s hands. It infuses an awkward or slightly embarrassing situation with humor. It makes those around you (who observed any awkwardness) chuckle instead of pity you. Most importantly, it makes you feel better about things.

There is the very rare chance it backfires and the person misses your first greeting but hears the sarcastic follow-up. Apologies ensue and all will appreciate the humor in the situation as much as you do.

Try it sometime. You’ll thank me (and Carlos). And if you don’t feel the need to, well, that’s cool, I’ll talk to you later…


3 thoughts on “Saving Face (In Which a Co-Worker Shares a Brilliant Invention)

  1. This has turned these increasingly frequent moments of embarrassment into comedy, which is always fun. Try doing it in a different voice too, it’s fun. My latest line is “No no, that’s fine. You’ve got [something stereotypically related to their job], you’re busy.”

    So for a marketing guy you could say: “No no, that’s fine, you’ve got click throughs to check and open rates to boost. That’s fine.”

  2. Man not 5 minutes ago a c-suite executive at Citi Mortgage did not return my greeting. I have met her multiple times as well as directed a photo shoot she starred in. Too bad I did not have this tip then.

  3. Our former business manager complained to me about our new part time hire who had ignored her elsewhere on campus. Fortunately for our new hire, it was actually her identical twin that was being addressed. Don’t make the person who processes your leave angry.

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