Many mornings (ones which arenít full of a deluge of rain in Seattle) I walk to school with my children. Itís not just a chance to see them off to school coupled with some exercise. Itís also an opportunity to check out the neighborhoods and those who live around us.
While Iím walking to school and back common sense says that everyone on the street is a parent at and/or a neighbor of the same school as my kids. Why not say hello?
Iíve found itís next to impossible for me not to greet the people whose path I cross on the street. The lack of a hello can completely confuse someone like me who truly wants people to be congenial to each other. Youíre going to drive past them. Youíre going to see their kids and hear their dog bark. They are clearly part of your community so whatís keeping you from saying hello?
Although I realize shyness may play a part, being shy is not an excuse for being rude. Etiquette encourages us to make otherís feel comfortable. Sometimes that means putting ourselves out and perhaps stepping out of our comfort zone. The person who is sure they are a nice person but is ďjust shyĒ, is probably viewed by the rest of the world as a snob. After all, they arenít friendly. They donít make eye contact. They donít tend to smile at people, neighbors, they pass on the street. What will people assume? Sadly people will always believe the worst (just look at what hooks you into watching the news) before they will hope for the best. Negative assumptions are not just about nature and traffic, it relates to people too.
I, as an etiquette teacher, will forever express the need for eye contact. Look at people and smile. The four most important rules of etiquette are:
A clear voice
And a bonus: Calling people by their name
Your neighborhood is the perfect place to say hello to others. As stated, they are the ones who you are going to see every day. Hmmm, Iím having a Mr. Rogers flashback here. It does, however, ring true. If shyness is a challenge for you, begin by saying hello to people who you share sidewalks, streets and general neighborhood noise with.
A smile is a non-verbal hello. Give it out in huge, amounts. The verbal hello, and actual ďHiĒ, for many is the non-verbal hug. People crave and need contact with each other. Even the shy people who have trouble reaching out need that. If you are shy, look out and around you. What do you see? Donít look at a person like they are going to do something you donít expect. Just smile. Look at them and say ďhelloĒ. You will be pleased at the response you get.
To quote Nike just do it. And do this 24-7.