I live on a long rural road where there are barely any people. I have to take my dog out for walks, or sometimes I just go for walks alone, and usually the street is a pretty desolate place. However, on occasion, I do come across other walkers. Since this road is more or less very straight for a long ways, I am often put into an awkward situation where the walker and I notice each other and neither of us know what to do. The other person looks at me for a second, and I look at them, and then we look away and pretend not to notice each other for two minutes until we pass each other, where we suddenly look up and wave to each other and then continue on our way. It is very obvious that we both were very unsure of what to do.

So how do I act to make these encounters a bit less uncomfortable? Wave from the moment we make eye contact? Ignore them altogether as if I'm blind? I've come across this situation countless times and I'm still baffled about what to do.

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    This can depend on where are you from. From what I know, it would be more common to greet the other person in the UK, fairly tolerated in Czechia, and possibly completely bizzare in some other country. – yo' Mar 1 '18 at 9:11
  • Are the people complete strangers to you, or neighbors you know? Are they older then you? Such questions may help you answering what behaviour is expected from you by usual social norms. Adapting them to outdoors (waving or noding if you are out of hearing range) is usually not much difficult. – Suma Mar 1 '18 at 10:11
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    This behaviour sounds normal to me; I'm in the UK. Why do you think it's awkward? – Pyritie Mar 1 '18 at 10:30

I live in a rural part of germany and my way home from work is often times through a field which features a long stretch of dirt road, so I know this feeling all too well.

There isn't really anything that will make this feel completly natural.

Usually I react by offering a quick acknowledgement (a nod, usually) when I first spot them and then wave / greet when we pass each other. This way, they know what to expect and you do too.

In the time between the nod and passing each other, just keep on walking like you otherwise would - the other person isn't and presumably doesn't want to be center of your attention.

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G.K.Chesterton, The Flying Inn: "... country folk will forget you if you speak to them, but talk about you all day if you don't."

Usually greeting does the magic of removing the awkwardness. My experience is from running or walking on rural desolate trails (Czechia). It happens very seldom the other person does not respond to my greeting. When this happens, I still do not feel awkward, because then I just think the other person is rude and I do not care about them any more.

You might ask yourself where does the awkwardness feeling comes from for you. Is it perhaps a sign of fear? Or disappointment, because you wanted to be on your own, like if the other one would be intruding on your privacy? It is not quite sure why it should be awkward to meet somebody when both of you are on public grounds.

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Here (France) in similar situations in the countryside when you see someone approaching but they're too far to say hello, a simple nod and a smile would be fine, no need to overdo it. You both acknowledge you've noticed each other and that's about it.

Waving and yelling "HIIIIII" to a stranger would be awkward...

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