I am a serial “Hello” person. I say hello and engage everyone, I feel it is important to greet people who are in your life: Family members, your neighbors, their pets, people you encounter at the store who serve you, the wait staff at restaurants, the gym, on the street in certain circumstances and other appropriate encounters. I can always tell, when someone doesn’t want to say hello and I respect that, so I just give them a smile of acknowledgement and move on. I walk around the neighborhood several times a week, and I will encounter so many friendly people. It’s a great area for walking, and lots of people do it. There is this one person who refuses to say hello, it drives me crazy. We even make eye contact and I know his wife, have been introduced to him, nothing. We will pass within inches of each other and no response. After several tries over the years, I have given up.
I have come to realize I am not alone on being perturbed by this. There is a delivery person I have come to know and we will have frequent conversations, my house has been part of his route for nearly twenty-years. My dog Mack can hear the truck, rumble and roll, turn off and on as it makes its way down the street, completing deliveries. My dog will immediately start crying and circling me to let me know the delivery man is coming, because he wants his treat. My office is in the back of the house, and the dog lounges on the love seat, in front. He gets first crack at all visitors. On a slow day, we had a conversation while Mack was munching down treats, he mentioned that I was the only one on his route that engages in conversation. I looked at him with, how could that be? Neither of us had an explanation. He shrugged it off, wasn’t angry about it, just an observation. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and it made me really take notice of encounters people have with one another.
What does Psychology Today say about this? I did some digging into why is it, that people don’t acknowledge each other, or why does it bother some people when they are not acknowledged? It comes down to validation, being recognized in the world. When you acknowledge someone, you are conveying the message, “I see you as valuable, special, important.” Whoa. It’s more about me, then them. I am giving away validation to those who really could care less, and in turn, I am the one who cares more. It’s a give and take world, I am giving and not receiving what I need in.
I can see this played out at my gym. During the day, there is a greeter at the card scanner, he is disabled and uses a wheelchair to get around. When you approach to scan your card, he loves to say hello. I love to say hello back and we exchange pleasantries. I will watch as this young man will try to engage other gym goers who are either too busy to notice, or simply don’t want to engage. It bothers me that people cannot take the time to simply say hello. There’s a chance, a good one, that I am now going overboard in telling him it is great to see him to make up for the deficit of others. (One time I forgot to say hello, and I turned around to make sure I acknowledged him. Yup, I take this very seriously.) I cannot fill the void, I just want to show my appreciation for bringing a smile to my face each time I see him. My role is to continue being civilized and kind. It doesn’t make me a better person, it just makes me a little more aware at times. It doesn’t take a lot to bring a smile to someone’s face with a simple hello. It’s free and it feels good to take the time to recognize the people in our lives.
As I was writing this, my husband reminded me about the sermon our pastor gave over the summer. The topic was on greeting your spouse. He drew the comparison to the way your dog greets you, to how your spouse greets you upon your arrival home. I would say I take the cat’s approach to greetings on this one. We all knew we were guilty and needed to add more joy to our greetings, dog-like, with tons of exuberance. He’s right, it starts at home, minus the tail wag. It’s time to get our “hello” on.