25 Oct Hi with a smile
How many people do you walk past in a day? For me, it can be more than 50 sometimes. How many of them do you greet, or even acknowledge? I could probably count them on my ten fingers. Until recently, when I was going for a walk with my son in his pram. I noticed that he happily waved and greeted every person we passed along the way. Each time, he received a wave and a smile in response to his cheerful “hello”. I realised that his wonderful Gogo had taught him this friendly approach by greeting the people they pass on their regular walks around our suburb.
The reality is that most of the time we are rushing through our day doing more than one thing at a time – talking on the phone while pushing the trolley around the grocery store, answering one last email while walking to the next meeting, engrossed in our thoughts while walking along a beautiful leafy street. We don’t even realise we are walking past someone we may even know. On all of these occasions, we miss the opportunity to impact someone’s life in that moment, with a “hi” and a smile. Unintentionally, we send the message that we are unfriendly, unapproachable and too busy, when actually we may have warm and welcoming personalities.
Since that walk with my son a few weeks ago, I’ve been more aware of acknowledging the people I pass along my way. Sometimes, the reaction is a puzzled expression of “have I met this person before?”. Other times a smile is returned. Occasionally, the face looking back at me holds an expression of surprise. It costs absolutely nothing and the impact can be wonderful. So why do we not do this more often then? We’re preoccupied with multiple activities, we’re very often rushing to get the next thing done, we are rude.
Many organisations and institutions have run campaigns to encourage greetings among staff or students. They have proved to lead to a happier environment and greatly improved the culture and moral of the people. The divide between teams and departments is broken and a better learning environment is created. These results proves that the simplest, least costly thing can make the biggest difference.
This new approach that my just-turned-two year old has taught me has made me more mindful of where I am, what I’m doing and the people around me. It makes me happy to know that I’ve been friendly to someone who may have been having a very bad day. And all it takes is a “hi” with a smile.