SET INDUCTION AND CLOSURE are the skills we employ to get in to and get out of social encounters. As summarised by Burgoon et al. (1996:340) The first task for conversants is knowing how to start and stop interactions. Some conversations begin and end smoothly and effortlessly, others are difficult, uncomfortable, and problematic.' Firsts and lasts seem to be of special importance for us. This is reflected in the host of words we have to describe these periods-beginning and ending, opening and closing, hello and goodbye, salutation and farewell, arrival and departure, introduction and conclusion, alpha and omega, start and finish, etc. In psychological terms, one of the reasons for this is that we are much more likely to remember that which we encounter first (the primacy effect) and last (the recency effect) in any sequence. Events in between are less clearly recalled. Given that people are more likely to be influenced by what we said or did as they met us and just before they left us, we should give due consideration to how these interactional phases are handled. Not surprisingly, their role in the development and maintenance of relationships has been the subject of serious study for some considerable time (e.g. Roth, 1889).
Greetings and partings are therefore very important parameters within which social interaction takes place. They are structured, formalised sequences during which we have a greater opportunity to make important points or create an effective impact on others. Humans have developed elaborate meeting and leave-taking rituals to mark these occasions, and parents overtly teach their children to engage in appropriate behaviours at both stages ('Say hello…' 'Wave