SAY ‘HELLO’ TO A STRANGER
I was recently inspired to share 10 tips on how our surroundings might help improve our mood and outlook. To read more about what inspired me, see my post on LinkedIn Pulse HERE.
My FIRST TIP was about losing your mind in the present. My SECOND TIP was about letting someone else guide you for a day. My THIRD TIP encourages you to try something new or something that you haven’t done for a long time.
The fourth one is about greeting someone you don’t know.
In the US, when people walk by each other – on the beach, the park, walking the dog – they always acknowledge each other by saying “good morning” or “hi” or by simply nodding and smiling to an oncoming person. I always thought it was a strange ritual, and yet, somehow, when it happens to me, I notice that a simple ‘hello’ from a stranger creates a small bond between us. And once I reciprocate twice or three times, it stops feeling strange. It gives me a feeling of familiarity, a sense of community and belonging. So I ask myself: ‘What is it that makes a simple greeting by a stranger bring on this sense of belonging?’
This reminds me of a scene from the film Avatar, when Neytiri (a female of the Na’vi indigenous species of the planet Pandora) teaches Jake (the human Marine in the avatar Na’vi body) how the Na’vi people greet each other. The Na’vi say “I see you!” by which they mean a lot more than the plain meaning of the words. The greeting means that they take full notice of your feelings at the time of the greeting, and fully acknowledge you as a being.
This type of greeting is not just words thrown out there for politeness or for the sake of a cultural ritual; when used authentically, they have the power of lifting up a person and making us realise we’re part of something bigger than the self.
The strength of conveying all those thoughts and emotions is what makes saying ‘hello’ to a stranger so powerful.
So my tip today is to try saying ‘hi’ to someone you don’t know next time you’re out and about. It won’t feel right for a few times, and people might look strangely at you at first. But if the situation lends itself to it – maybe as you walk into a bakery or the butchers, or when you see a sales assistant standing around – when it wouldn’t be completely out of the realm of appropriateness to say ‘hi’, go ahead and say it to as many people as you can, and take notice of how it makes you feel. I bet the effect will surprise you!
Next tip: reconnect with a loved one.