Steve J. Moore

You Had Me at, “Hello”

In World Events on September 4, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Since I’m student teaching this semester, I find that impressions are made quickly on people in high school halls classrooms. You encounter hundreds of people across seven or eight hours, giving glances, nods, and greetings, but how many people do you actually acknowledge?

I usually end up listening to NPR at some point every day, if not reading it online, and one of my favorite segments is “This I Believe.” On August 14, 2008 Howard White contributed a piece called “The Power of Hello,” which opened with this statement:

I work at a company where there are about a gazillion employees. I can’t say that I know them all by name, but I know my fair share of them. I think that almost all of them know me. I’d say that’s the reason I’ve been able to go wherever it is I’ve made it to in this world. It’s all based on one simple principle: I believe every single person deserves to be acknowledged, however small or simple the greeting. 

I promise to leave my connections of this post to Jerry Maguire at this picture (and the title quote), but this picture sums up what I’m trying to get at. People need to make deep meaningful connections with other people. Now, you can’t expect to yield life-long friendships from every person that you meet (but what a great goal 😉 also, I’m never sure what to do with parenthetical emoticons… besides comment after them), but I’ve found that saying hello to as many people as possible can have a profound cumulative effect. It may not be that day or that week, but when you look a person in the eyes, make contact, and say “Hi Kristin” you make a very personal connection, if only briefly, that says, ” I chose to give you a moment of my time because you are here.”

This is something that White expresses as a core human belief of his; it was something his mother taught him at ten years of age that stuck with him throughout life.

I believe that every person deserves to feel someone acknowledge their presence, no matter how humble they may be or even how important.

What a great parent. Sure, taking your kids to dance, soccer, and music lessons is a great way to build character, but how often do you get to really change the way another person operates day-to-day? Saying hello may seem microscopic in a world where human rights, political correctness, and privacy are broadcasted as major concerns; but, small things add up. Just like “keeping the change” can build a modest percentage onto a savings account (no matter how pithy the bank’s interest rate), making a deposit in other peoples’ days can compound all of our social interest.

Howard White’s NPR piece can be found here

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  1. Good piece of advice; wish I could follow it =/

    I’m very guilty of averting my eyes and walking past strangers as if they’re not even there.

    It’s strange how humans are said to be social creatures, yet we love to create invisible walls amongst ourselves.

  2. I think privacy is something that we all value greatly. It’s important, but I think in today’s world we need to live dual lives. The separation between our public and private selves is important, and we all have to shape the two identities in a way that is true to ourselves.

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