The level 5 “Good morning”

Studies show that when you have a good start to your work day, you’ll typically have a good day. Here’s our easiest and best tip for kicking your work day off with happiness: The Level 5 Good Morning.

We call it that because there are several approaches to saying good morning at work:
Level 0: You ignore people completely
Level 1: A somewhat unintelligible grunt
Level 2: Saying good morning without looking at people
Level 3: Make eye contact as you say good morning
Level 4: Also say something more than just good morning, e.g. “How are you?” or something more personal.
Level 5: Also touch the other person – e.g. a handshake or a pat on the shoulder. You can even hug, but only if you want to :-)

At what level are the typical good mornings in your workplace? And what would happen if you took it to level 5?

Please do not underestimate the effect of something as simple as saying good morning at work. Here’s an example from one workplace:

I once worked for a bank in Germany (well these are two locations in which you would not normally expect “personal affection” ;-)).

The team was large, about 40 people worked in one open space office. It surprised me a lot that every morning, whoever arrived, walked through the whole office and greeted everybody with a handshake and some personal words. It did not matter if the team members came, the bosses from higher up or anybody from another department. It was known everywhere that here you greet everybody personally.

For the first week, I found that very strange and a bit intimidating. Also, it cost a lot of time all in all. Yet afterwards, I really enjoyed it. It gave everybody the chance to get to know the colleagues a bit better, to hear what they are off to or to realize that somebody is not in or just returned from a trip or vacation. There was no need to e-mail weekly lists on who is out when. We just knew it.

Btw, when I moved on to another job, I sort of missed it.

So that’s your mission: For the rest of this week, greet your co-workers in the morning with a level 5 good morning.

What if people don’t say good morning back? Well, here’s one way to deal with that.

Once you’ve done it, please write a comment below and tell us how it went. Did it work or fail miserably? Did you do it exactly as proscribed or improve upon the mission in your own way?

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14 thoughts on “The level 5 “Good morning””

  1. May I suggest the personal touch can be using people’s names.
    Good Morning, Alexander, is infinitely more personal than just Good Morning. Just say it out loud, if need be substituting Alexander with your own name, and feel the difference.

    This is a short week in the US, Happy Thanksgiving will substitute for many helllos and good byes this week. The friendly spirit permeating this website is just one more thing to be thankful for.

  2. The idea by itself may be nice.. but if someone tried to give me a good morning hug, he/she will run the risk of losing a few limbs.
    There simply are people who are just no “morning persons”, and part of a good office climate is respecting that kink. There is a fine line between happiness at work and obnoxiously cheerful people. ;-)

  3. Pingback: The level 5
  4. Do NOT go around touching your coworkers. Keep your hands off of me. I have close friends from whom I welcome touch, but those are close, trusted friends, not random coworkers. Your advice shows a profound disrespect for other people’s personal space and comfort levels. Your “Level 5 greeting” would result in a firm rebuke from me, followed by a conversation with your manager.

  5. Yes, where I work, touching has bad consequences. Even accidentally. It is sad for some, but true. I for one, would cringe and try to avoid being touched by coworkers or boss. It sends a bad message in the culture I work in. If I touched a coworker I would be brought in to my bosses office and sent to diversity training. However, using the person,s name is acceptable, and I did that this morning. I received more than just a Hello back. It was nice. The trick is to say it without sounding too creepy.

  6. One morning, a coworker came up to me and pinched the sides of my stomach. They also said “Good morning”. I was soooo mad that I glared at them and said “Hi” back with an undertone.
    Context: Both the coworker and I are females. She is very friendly. But I have never been comfortable with people touching me. I was caught off guard. And I’m not a morning person.

  7. I used to have a manager who would squeak, “Wakey, Wakey!” Loudly as she came into the room. I feel like that behavior… And any behavior in which you are trying to one-up your co-workers so early in the morning… Would be a little bit passive-aggressive. Maybe YOU are having a good morning doing that, but you’re bothering everyone else.

  8. Thanks again for this lovely pattern, taught it to my 4-year old on the way to school this morning, “this is something we even teach grown-ups, at work”.

    For us level 2 was using a name, and level 5 was only for people who are okay with fist-bumps/hi5/hugs.

    We practiced all 5 levels with me as the responder, so she could feel the difference and build an understanding of how her good morning made others feel.

    She burst into her class room with a good morning everyone and then went to say good morning to the teacher and friends.

    Good morning for me :D

    “Good morning Alexander, thanks for making my morning, hope you’re having a good one too.”

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