In our culture (I am South African), we always say hello and how are you? It does not matter whether you know the person or not, a friend or enemy, you still say hello and how are you? If it is a friend you might say “Howzit”, meaning ‘hi how are you’ – all in one go. The next response from the receiving person would be “I’m fine thanks and you”. It does not matter how you feel, you still say I’m fine thanks (South African attitude). So, at work or socially I always say Hello to people with a ‘How are you’? If it is a good customer, I will say ‘Hello, are things well on your side?’
When I say good bye, it is usually ‘Good Bye, have a fantastic day’, if it is a customer. When it is a friend or colleague, I’ll say ‘Bye, have a great night’. When I say good bye to my really close girlfriends, it will be ‘Cheers, see you later’.
I really dislike uncomfortable moments and I often find myself talking the biggest amount of nonsense just to fill the silence. I don’t often have those uncomfortable moments because I talk a lot and ask people about their lives and that keeps the conversation going until intuition kicks in and I know its time to go with a humourous closure.