Some food for thought. I came across this on another blog and it got me thinking, I’m not as friendly as I think I am. How many people do I not make eye contact with or don’t speak to unless spoken to first and why?
The other night my gas light came on and not wanting to run out of gas..... I stopped for gas in a not-so-nice part of town. As I was finished pumping my gas and getting back in my car, some strange looking guy started yelling something and walking towards me. Literally, my response was to slam on the accelerator and floor it out of the gas station and onto to the highway without ever glancing back. In that particular situation, I’m will always prefer to err on the side of caution (he didn’t look like he was coming to say hello) but seriously.....did my first thought have to be “Is he going to carjack me” and “Do I hear gun fire”(I didn’t).
We’ve come to an age where every stranger is the enemy until proven otherwise so it is just better to walk quickly by while staring at the sidewalk, grocery shop with my headphones on, or (my personal favorite) use my cell phone as a body shield (like you’ve never pretended to call someone just to avoid talking to that sales rep).
The crazy part is that I’m not even a fearful person, have never been attacked and really have no reason to be unfriendly or rude to people. I’m the girl who goes running at 11 o’clock in the evening and so what if my jogging trail isn’t well lit. So if I’m not afraid, why can’t I say hello to the woman standing next to me in the elevator or smile at the guy whose buggy is blocking my aisle. Is that too hard?
So I believe I’m going to give this hello thing a shot, nothing grand but just an attempt to be friendlier.
On a side note, I found # 11’s call center research just plain weird, BUT will most likely suggest the “Smile Hunting” game to my supervisor just so I get that you can’t be serious look again. :)
What if you said Hello to everyone in your path for one month? by Joe Kita
Hello. It's one of the first words we learn as babies, yet it's one of the last ones we think to use as adults. In our never-ending rush to get something or somewhere, it seems we don't have time anymore for this most basic of gestures. And that's unfortunate, because saying hello is more than just saying hello. It is an acknowledgment of existence. It is a pause, however brief, to affirm another's worth (and have yours affirmed in return). How might the world change-how might we change—if we mastered this word? To find out, I spent one month saying hello to every person I met. That meant strangers on the street, people in cyberspace, and even myself in the mirror every morning. Here's what I learned:
1. It's not as easy as you think. Age gives us a crust, like the film on refrigerated pudding. Even though we may still be soft deep down, that's not what others see. I, for one, look a lot less friendly as a bald 49-year-old than I did as a curly-haired teen. Mistrust becomes our unfortunate catchword, and it's tougher to raise a hand in greeting because that invites people in. "The older we get, the more task-oriented we become," explains R. Allan Allday, PhD, an assistant professor of special education at
2. Friendliness is so rare nowadays, it's disarming. Because people aren't accustomed to being greeted, I found it a sneaky way to grab their attention and get what I wanted. For instance, when I began an e-mail with "Hi," I was more likely to get a reply. And when I said hello to cashiers and clerks, I got better service. It's as if I woke them up to my presence.
3. It can boost productivity. In one of the few studies ever done on this subject, Allday had middle school teachers greet their students individually each morning. This brief interaction ultimately raised the kids' productivity by 27 percent. School went from impersonal to personal, he explains, and that resulted in more class participation and better grades. (Managers, take note: Perhaps your time would be better spent at the office door saying "Good morning.")
4. People you wouldn't normally acknowledge turn out to be the friendliest. The gnarly, the dirty, the semi-strange … in other words, the people I'd normally avoid or not even notice were the ones who reacted the most warmly. No doubt it's because they're so accustomed to being ignored that any acknowledgment is akin to being feted at the Rotary.
5. Respect begets respect. I normally run or bicycle the same route at the same time each day. When I started waving to the drivers who passed, an unusual thing happened: After a few days, they not only started waving back, but they also gave me a wider berth. So my workouts became more pleasant and safer. "You became a person to them," says Allday.
6. Setting influences sociability. One study found that people in New York City were less likely (38 percent) to shake hands with a stranger than those in small towns (68 percent). And, researchers say, pleasant environments generally evoke more reciprocal smiles and hellos than unpleasant ones. My experience was similar. Whether due to distraction or suspicion, my urban hellos were answered far less often than my rural ones. Likewise, people in vacation spots, like the
7. Tinted windows should be banned. In general, highways are the worst place for hellos. When I waved from behind the wheel, other drivers would give me a dumb stare. Cell phones certainly contribute to this (you can't wave when both hands are occupied), but a bigger factor is our inability to see each other. Either the vehicles are too big or the windows are too dark. As a result, we share the road with faceless machines that are much easier to ignore or be aggressive toward. There is one noteworthy exception, however, and that is motorcyclists. Every one I waved to seemed genuinely thrilled to be noticed. The threat of death makes bosom buddies of us all.
8. You need to be careful around kids. It's an unfortunate, but necessary, sign of our times that youngsters are instinctively wary of strangers. Next to motorists, 5- to 15-year-olds ignored me the most. Although that wasn't surprising, it did sadden and even scare me. To them I was a predator.
9. Reaching out focuses you. The simple act of saying hello continually pulled me back from wherever my mind had wandered and forced me to be more aware. It's social Zen.
10. It can save your marriage. I never realized how infrequently I greeted my wife of 24 years, or the rest of my family, until I started doing so deliberately. Common courtesy isn't so common.
11. It's a form of universal health insurance. It's impossible to say hello without smiling. One leads to the other just as a tap causes a knee jerk. And smiling has been clinically shown to lower blood pressure, boost immunity, and even release natural painkillers (endorphins), each of which lowers stress, boosts happiness, and improves health. Apparently, a smile creates a similar effect in the recipient. Canadian researchers found that call-center employees who played a five-minute "smile hunting" game before work, in which they repeatedly picked the smiling face from a photo assortment, had 17 percent less of the stress hormone cortisol after their shift.
So maybe we can make the world a better place by just saying hello. After a month of doing it, I feel lighter and more connected and I have a better sense of well-being. Once I broke through my initial crustiness and got into the habit, it even became a game: Can I make this grump open up?
If you're inspired to try this at home, there's no need to greet everyone you meet. That can be intimidating and even exhausting. Instead, pick an arbitrary number—say, three—and make it your goal to say hello to that many strangers daily. That will result in 1,095 more hellos over the next year. Build from there. And don't forget to acknowledge the most important stranger of all: Saying hello to yourself each morning in the mirror recognizes the one person who needs it most.
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