Wow. See how easy that was? One little word. Five little letters. Try it yourself out loud- say it with me now- hello (you didn’t actually do it, did you? Say it now!).
I get it, we’re all busy. I’m a working first-time mom who practically loses my glasses when they’re on my face. The few times I’ve had the opportunity to leave the house for a non-work/non doctor’s appointment outing (I think there have been three times so far…), I’m disheveled and feeling out of sorts being detached from my 3.5 month old barnacle. Generally sporting a “natural” look without makeup, letting my not quite straight not quite curly but quite unmanageable hair do its thing, you will most likely catch me in a moment where even if you were my best friend, I would want to avoid you to avoid embarrassment.
Side note: I love that today’s generation of models are becoming very prominent household names off the runway. Ah, to be 20 and gallivanting the social scene with Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Cara Delevingne, fresh faced and looking super cool with their effortless style. I, however, look like a sallow, untamed monster when going au naturel. This is not my look, and if you look pretty this way, congratulations. I truly mean it.
The Power of Hello
Something about me that I love is how people have compared me to my grandma. My grandma can strike up a conversation with a stranger while in a line at Macy’s and end up exchanging Christmas cards with them that year, and she has been known to invite the mail person in for tea. I love that she finds ways to connect with any person, anywhere in the world, and make them feel like old friends after a few minute conversation. Growing up, I emulated her friendly disposition; I made friends with the crossing guards and said hello to passers-by anywhere I went. In grammar school, I was pals with the janitor; I’ve always waved to police officers and firefighters when we cross paths and am quick to let a stranger know that I love her lipstick color. Sometimes when people are with me, they feel embarrassed or think it’s strange, but it’s how I’ve always been.
Of course there comes a time, even for me, when I see people in public I really don’t want to see- it could be a high school rival or someone I admired in college who looks 100 times better than I do in all my natural glory. Yes, in these moments, I may duck and cover instead of embracing them with a warm hello.Where am I going with this? Oh yes- we are all busy or we may have insecurities that prevent us from being open to saying hello to others. Or you just feel weird saying hi to a stranger. Or you think, what’s the point? Why would I say hello to someone I’m passing on Michigan Avenue as I’m shopping who I will never see again, nor do I actually care for?
Because, my friends, saying hello is extremely powerful. A simple hello can make someone feel noticed, even for a moment. A simple hello and a smile can become contagious. A simple hello might not go any further than that salutation yet it can make you feel pleasant inside.
I got to thinking about this because I received a letter from one of my students last week that inspired this post. In it, she writes:
“This is going to sound really silly or stupid, but last year, even though you didn’t know me, I wasn’t your student, and you were a first year teacher, you said hi to me. You said hi to me and you somehow knew my name. I don’t know why, but I always remembered this. Even though I didn’t know you, I felt welcomed and knew you were a kind person, so I was even more excited to have you as a teacher the next year.”
The letter goes on, but when I first read this, I thought ‘wow.’ How did I know her name? Why did this stand out to her after a year? It really struck me and showed the power of the hello.
Saying hello to someone seems like a simple gesture, but it can have long-lasting effects. What’s stopping you?
– Insecurities? Everyone is insecure.
– Busy? Everyone is busy.
– Shy? It’s one simple word. You can do it.
– Feel awkward? Again, we’re talking one word. One. Word.
As you can see, there is no real excuse for not saying hi to someone, and the benefits are countless:
– Makes a good impression
– Can make someone invisible feel seen
– Can bring a smile to you and the recipient
– Can open the door for further conversation
I challenge you to start acknowledging others- whether it’s people you already know or see regularly or strangers when you’re out and about. Take the initiative and experience the benefits. Even if you feel slightly uncomfortable or don’t feel all warm and fuzzy right away, you never know the impact you made on someone else. Try it out. Tell me your experiences. Tell me I’m crazy. Tell me it felt good. Tell me something.