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This may sound like a silly question, but I'm having a bit of confusion.

I'm not sure what to say. I work remotely and I am a member of a team on the opposite side of the earth. On the chat, when they say “good morning” or “good night”, I get confused about what I should reply because when they are enjoying morning it is night for me.

Should I say “good morning” when they say “good morning”? Can I say “good morning” to them when it's morning for me? Thanks!!

  • Yes, say both and acknowledge that although it may be night for them, it is morning for you, and vice versa. When you say both, you greet (or take leave of) each other from both perspectives. You can do this all the time, or just a couple times. After that, when they say "Good morning" and you say only "Good evening" maybe they will remember there is a time difference. – user6951 Mar 6 '15 at 14:27
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    The nice thing about this question is that, when it comes up, the person on the other end will almost always be thinking the same thing, and perfectly willing to accept whatever you say. – Chris Hayes Mar 7 '15 at 8:51
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    @user3321 Note that "Good day to you" means "Goodbye", not "Hello". – David Richerby Mar 7 '15 at 10:55
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    @DavidRicherby urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=good+day+to+you%2C+sir :A short greeting that was a nice way of saying "Hello." – user3321 Mar 7 '15 at 13:56
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    @DavidRicherby yourdictionary.com/good-day - a phrase used during the day as a greeting or farewell - I'm not the only one that considers it a greeting as well as a farewell. I think that question has as many downvotes for the "streetspeak" section. – user3321 Mar 7 '15 at 14:09
31

I’m in Chicago and most of my team is in Paris, so this is a situation I have a lot of practice with!

My primary recommendation is: reference the time of your audience.

However, the key fact is: anything you say nicely is fine.

Typical conversations I’ve had at 8 AM my time (CST), 3 PM their time (CET):

  1. Paris: Good morning!

    Chicago: Good morning! uhh . . . Good afternoon!

  2. Paris: Good morning!

    Chicago: (Yes, it is a) good morning!

  3. Paris: Good morning!

    Chicago: Good afternoon (to you)!

These generic expressions of goodwill are fairly flexible. Primarily, we are wishing that people hearing us are enjoying whatever time of day it is. The same words can also acknowledge their wish for us, or even confirm that we are enjoying whichever time of day it is. That means whatever you say, you are justified, but generally it is more polite to acknowledge the reference frame of the people you are speaking to.

Remember, all this etiquette is rooted in practices that predate international conversation by a long shot. This is something that is acknowledged as awkward among native speakers and we laugh about it.

It sounds like your coworkers are treating this type of statement primarily as a report rather than a wish. They are saying “(it’s a) good morning (here in the US)!” This means you have two polite options! You can adopt their sense of the greeting and report from your own locale: “Good evening from here!” OR you can politely wish that they go on having a good morning in their location! Either’s fine, or even both!

  • This is the best advice. These are generalized greetings, and there's no need to "correct" someone since they did nothing incorrectly. It's best to see such things as merely conversation openers, respond in kind, and then move on. – Adam Davis Mar 6 '15 at 16:16
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No matter the language, you'll want to be civil, friendly, and polite.

That being the case, I would avoid "correcting" the other person. That person was most likely giving you the most natural greeting for their time of day. When that happens, you have two options:

  1. Just let it go ("Good morning to you, too!")
  2. Somehow remind them that you are in a different time zone

The latter can make for some interesting yet lighthearted conversation, particularly if, you're waiting for other attendees to join the session, for example.

There are several ways you can highlight the time zone differences without sounding like you were put off by the greeting, such as:

  • "Maybe it's morning where you are, but it's midafternoon here. But I do wish you a good morning!"
  • "My morning started about 9 or 10 hours ago when I woke up. But it was a good one, thanks!"

These kinds of remarks, if uttered in a cordial and gracious tone, should be fine – if you decide you want to point out that you're in a different time zone.

3

Literally nobody cares! Just say "hi" or "good <anything>". If your coworker knows you are from some other place on the planet, they will not care about a discrepancy in greeting.

The only way you could feasibly get this wrong is if you were to say something totally random that didn't apply to either of you (e.g. "good afternoon"), which would make you sound somewhat peculiar if the other conversation participant picked up on the fact that it made no sense. In such a scenario, you may even come across as being slightly cheeky.

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    Literally nobody cares! Obviously someone does, as this question got asked. – Esoteric Screen Name Mar 7 '15 at 14:35

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