Hi there!

ajparis

Senior Member
American English
I find it condescending when a colleague or superior says to me, "Hi there!" Is it my imagination, or is it patronizing? I never use this greeting except possibly to a dog or a small child. Perhaps it's a regional thing....
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think it's your perception/imagination.
    It is definitely informal and perhaps too informal as a first greeting from a stranger to whom one is about to be introduced. It would be irritating only to someone who expects more formality at every encounter with colleagues or superiors.
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I always thought of "Hi there!" as a very friendly greeting... you clearly think too much of what people say to you. How could it be condescending? :confused:
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    It would entirely depend on how it is said, not the greeting itself. Any greeting, or anything we say, for that matter, can be condescending and patronising. Anything at all.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I've said "Hi there" to subordinates, peers, superiors, students, and friends with whom I have no professional relationship at all. I might even say it to the clerk at a store's service desk, or a bank teller, when it becomes my turn to speak with him or her.

    To me, it's an informal greeting that doesn't imply condescension at all. It could be said in a condescending manner, but so could any other greeting.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Like Egmont, boozer and others, I do not find it demeaning in and of itself .... and as a side note, I find it several orders of magnitude more acceptable than some of the idiotic expressions uttered by some people these days, such as "hey" or "'sup, dude."
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I agree with sdgraham. :) Also, "Hi there!", athough casual, is essentially friendly in tone to me, where something like "Hey!" could be anything from demanding to dismissive. "Hey!" is much more likely to rub me the wrong way, especially if spoken with a deadpan face.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    If anything, I might find it overly cheery or self-effacing. That doesn't have anything to do with condescension or patronization to me.

    If someone thought they were important and I was unimportant, "Hi there!" is about the last thing I would expect them to say to me.
     

    ajparis

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't know how nickm70 would answer dreamlike, but it seems to me that a "chirpy" intonation usually accompanies "High there!" and that may well be the part that I don't like. On the other hand, I kind of like "Hey" and even "Hey there", which I feel implies friendship; this could be because I've had good experiences in Scandinavia, where they say, "Hej hej" as a greeting. As for "Sup dude", I've never heard it in my life, though there was one character who always used to greet me with "Hey dude," and I just couldn't take that seriously.
     

    nickm70

    Senior Member
    American English
    Well it might be just my perspective, since I'm probably a good bit younger than most of the users here. Back in the day, I'm sure "Hi there" was perfectly acceptable and not rude at all, but I feel like the first impression I get from a man I don't know who says "Hi there!" to me is that he is arrogant and sees me as a child, as ajparis said in the original post.
    And I'm really interested as to how "hey" is an idiotic expression as sdgraham said. :D :confused:
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Have you ever observed whether or not that same man greets people his age with "Hi there"? If he does, I think the only conclusion you can draw is that he sees you as an equal to them. If he doesn't, you may have a point.

    "Hey" from someone my son's age is a greeting that acknowledges me and my presence. I take it as neutral but not necessarily friendly; it's also not unfriendly. "Hey!" from across a room is a way to grab someone's attention that is not very friendly, in my experience, so it has some undercurrents of that to me when I hear it. I would say "Excuse me" or "Sir" or "Ma'am/Miss" to get someone's attention and I've seen people of all ages do the same with others. "Hey!" is aggressive if it's loud, at least to me. It all depends on the tone of voice, I suppose.

    It's amazing all the assumptions we have about what people are trying to say with such simple words, isn't it?
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Well it might be just my perspective, since I'm probably a good bit younger than most of the users here...
    If older people are saying it to you, perhaps they're saying it condescendingly. If that's the case, then the problem is their condescension to a younger person for the sole reason that he's* younger, not the specific words.

    __________________________
    *Or "she's," but I infer that you're probably a guy from your handle.
     
    I agree with everyone, it depends on how it's said. It could be said very warmly, or it could be said obnoxiously, like Peter Gabriel in the opening of the song "Big Time". :)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I could only see a problem with "Hi there!" if it were said in the squeaky baby same tone as "coochy coo" as to a child or cute animal - if someone said it like that to me, I'd think they were on drugs or something :eek:. However, all the "Hi there"s I've ever heard have been adult and friendly in tone.
     

    nickm70

    Senior Member
    American English
    True, but "Hi there" can't be used to get someone's attention like "hey" can. I think you have to relate them equally, like going to a store and the cashier says to you "Hi there, how are you?" compared to "Hey, how are you?".
    In my opinion there's a pretty big difference in meaning. I also wasn't saying it couldn't be unfriendly in certain contexts, I was just wondering how it's idiotic to use it.

    If older people are saying it to you, perhaps they're saying it condescendingly. If that's the case, then the problem is their condescension to a younger person for the sole reason that he's* younger, not the specific words.
    Hmm well I wouldn't feel condescended if they had just said "hello" or "hi"... even if they did have a secret dislike for youth. :p
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    True, but "Hi there" can't be used to get someone's attention like "hey" can. I think you have to relate them equally, like going to a store and the cashier says to you "Hi there, how are you?" compared to "Hey, how are you?".
    In my opinion there's a pretty big difference in meaning. I also wasn't saying it couldn't be unfriendly in certain contexts, I was just wondering how it's idiotic to use it.
    Now you've got me totally confused as to what you are trying to say :(
     

    nickm70

    Senior Member
    American English
    JamesM was making the argument of how "hey" can be unfriendly when used in the context of getting someones attention. I mean that you can't compare the unfriendliness or rudeness of two words when they are used in two completely different contexts.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    The problem is that some people say "hey" as a greeting in the same way some people say it to be aggressive. That's all I was saying; it can give the wrong impression.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The problem is that some people say "hey" as a greeting in the same way some people say it to be aggressive. That's all I was saying; it can give the wrong impression.
    So in this context, it is how the greeting is said that makes the difference - I totally agree with that. An adult, cheerful and friendly "Hi there!" to me carries no negative or condescending sense, but I'm sure the intonation could be contrived to make it sound negative in a variety of ways. Or, if one has a certain mindset, like the OP apparently does, just the choice of words is negative. I just don't have that mindset.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    As another thought, some of us of a certain age had it drilled into us that "hey" was inherently rude ("Hay is for horses" was a common reply from elders when we said "hey!"). There is probably an emotional carryover there. The word itself got stigmatized for those who were brought up this way. I, my wife and many of our friends were "trained" this way.
     
    Last edited:

    O'Malley

    New Member
    English US
    "I find it condescending when a colleague or superior says to me, "Hi there!" Is it my imagination, or is it patronizing? I never use this greeting except possibly to a dog or a small child. Perhaps it's a regional thing...."

    "Agreed. "Hi there" can certainly be demeaning, especially coming from someone you don't know."

    I agree that the effect of "Hi there" is often condescending or demeaning.

    Yes, it can be uttered in that tone, but also: yes it is (in my experience) almost always uttered in that way.

    I think that the word "there" in this context sets up a distance between the utterer and the utteree and that this distance has the effect of placing the person on the receiving end at a lower level.

    A good response: When some greets you with "HI there", respond with "Hi THERE". If you can remember quickly enough to use this, I think it will neutralize any condescension, but will have no effect in case there is no condescension.

    Thanks for this thread. I must admit that I found this by looking for views similar to mine on this.
     

    Jppp

    New Member
    English
    No no no most certainly NOT your imagination OG. 2 people (upper mgmt) at work do this quite often to me and it makes me think they are a**&#@es only because they know me and know my name and are very familiar with me.
    In my opinion, this wont apply if we are talking about strangers.

    People that use this greeting do send the message (to those that are listening and observant) that the person they are addressing is a nobody to them and they cant be courteous enough to use their name when saying hello. It creates an invisible barrier in between using the word “there”. It suggests that you are not on the same side, team, level etc.

    It just shows the different kind of people in this world. Very demeaning absolutely and people that disagree most likely see themselves as better than others since they cannot see anything wrong with this cold and impersonal “hi there”. Research the real true meaning of the word greeting, ill tell you right now its not hi there.

    What is the point of saying anything, they should just say nothing if they want to say hi there. Same effect.

    Or one can only hope that the person is not educated enough to use a more appropriate greeting. I mean how could they not realize the message they are sending when they talk to other people. Not cool.

    Good for you for recognizing the fact that this greeting should not be used ever. It sounds over board but not really, you never know who your addressing and how they interpret your words and how it makes them feel.

    I find it condescending when a colleague or superior says to me, "Hi there!" Is it my imagination, or is it patronizing? I never use this greeting except possibly to a dog or a small child. Perhaps it's a regional thing....
     
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