How often do we take the time to actually greet someone? In a time of wearable technology, it’s become harder and harder for some of us to separate from it. Following a recent conversation with Ted Rubin, I came to realize that saying “hello” simply doesn’t happen enough.

Let’s think about this.

The opportunity to say “hello” is one that we come across everyday. Whether it’s in an elevator, in your office or in your home, there’s an opportunity far too many people are missing. So, why say hello? What makes the greeting so important?

The Value of Hello

Think of a greeting card and the impact it has on you. Whether it says thank you or congratulations, it’s something that makes you smile. A greeting itself is actually defined as “the action of giving a sign of welcome or recognition.” When you think about a greeting such as hello in this way, why wouldn’t you want to say hello?

To better break down the real value of hello, take a look at the impact in a few places we often find ourselves.

In The Elevator (aka, in public)

To be clear, I’m using the elevator as a very specific example.  The elevator, however, could be any place. It could be a hotel lobby or a concessions stand line at your son’s high school football game. Open your mind for the example that follows and put yourself in the shoes of the characters created. I’m willing to bet many have experienced a similar experience.

Imagine this: You’re making your way to your next appointment for the day. As you step in the elevator, there’s one other person on board. He or she is wearing headphones and listening to their favorite Spotify playlist. The elevator goes up and drops this person off at their floor. You never have a chance to engage with them or even say hello.

Now imagine THIS:  That same person sees you get on the elevator and removes their headphones. Instead of ignoring you and continuing to listen to their music, they acknowledge your presence. This person says hello and perhaps asks what floor you’re going to, offering to hit the button. The rest of the elevator ride you now engage in a friendly dialogue and build a potential connection.

Put yourself in the person wearing the headphone’s shoes now. Which one are you? More importantly, which one do you want to be?

In The Office

It’s likely you do not know everyone in your office. Even in a small office setting, there’s a good chance you only really know a few people. This is where the power of hello comes in. If your company culture openly holds events which invite you to connect and network with your fellow colleagues, then you’ll find it much easier to get the opportunity to say hello.

So what is the value of hello in the office? Here’s a few advantages:

  • The opportunity to get to know a different part of the company that you may not know a lot about.
  • As a new employee, it’s a chance to get to gain a better understanding of the company culture.
  • By building your network at work (because it starts with hello) could open the door to future opportunities or promotions.

If you do not have a company culture that fosters that sense of community, however, it does not mean you can’t utilize the power of hello. Take advantage of periods of time where events may take place that open these doors. This may include a company party or a human resources program that may offer extracurricular learning. If networking opportunities do not exist, don’t be afraid to try to create them yourself!

Depending on your office setting, the morning can also be a great time to simply say hello on your way to your own work space. In this scenario you must conscious of the fact that people value their time at work differently. Some people may NOT be interested in getting to know you or sharing. Respect this – but if you want a chance to grow and learn in the work space, open yourself up to a hello here or there.

In Your Home

I think it’s important to stress home. Take off your headphones. Stop looking at your phone. Say hello to your husband or wife when you get home. Make eye contact and look at your family members in the eyes. Far too often (myself included) we find ourselves lost in the portable computer in our hands or on our wrists.

These relationships may not seem like the ones that will make or break your career but they are. This is your support system. These are the people who will be there for you whether you are successful in your endeavors or even if you fail.

After Hello (Listen!)

Whether it’s in the elevator, in your office or in your home the next step is crucial. Listen. Conversation starts with hello but continues effectively because you take the time to listen and hear what the other person is saying. Keep the conversation going and get to know someone. You never know what you’ll find out.

My Challenge

…is to take the challenge Ted Rubin gave me. Go and simply say hello to a someone you don’t know. Take off your headphones in that elevator and turn around to say “hi”. Who knows where that conversation will take you.