I am an adult male living in the US, in case it matters.
Anyway, there's something I do when walking past people on a (not too busy) sidewalk or in a hallway, where I will make eye contact with them, smile and nod, and then look away. Often, they will do the same. It seems to me like the purpose of this exchange is to reassure the other person that you are friendly and aware enough of your surroundings to not run into them.
I like to perform this exchange whenever the situation occurs. The problem I sometimes run into is not knowing when to try to make eye contact. The way I see it, I can either :
not try to make eye contact at all (which would be rude)
stare them down until they look at me (which would be creepy/intimidating), or
glance at them a couple times and nod if I see them looking back (which is what I do currently).
What I'm wondering is if there's a proper way to handle this. I feel like what I do doesn't work as often as it should, and would like to complete this exchange whenever the other person attempts it (so I don't cause them to run into the same problem).
So, am I doing this right? And/or is there anything I could do to increase the chances of success?
I noticed this question about whether this exchange should happen at all, in this case I'm confident that it should and would like to maximize the chance of success and minimize the chance of discomfort.