I am a generally friendly person. I smile at people when I meet them in the hallways at work, say hi when some random coworker is getting on or off the elevator, and generally try to present myself as someone who is open, friendly, and not going to bite your head off. Somedays this is obviously easier than others (yesterday was not one of them), but it’s the way I generally try to behave toward others, even if it’s just the check-out person at the grocery store.
See, my momma taught me this. I am naturally pretty shy and I remember her telling me as a child that it wouldn’t kill me to smile and say hi to people I passed in the hallway. As a teacher, she’d pretty much had her fill of students who came off as rude (whether they were or not) by buzzing right past teachers with nary a word, smile, or an “excuse me.” My mom and dad were big on manners and so much of that has stayed with me as an adult. Because manners aren’t about you. They’re about other people. Manners, at the core, are about showing others respect (which everyone deserves whether we think so or not) and making others feel comfortable and welcome.
So today, I’m getting on the elevator to come up to my office. And when the doors open, there’s this guy who works in some other area who I see enough to recognize. Wait a minute! His department used to be housed on the same floor as mine. He knows me! Now I’m mad! OK, tangent and hissy fit aside, there’s this guy on there. As he steps off, I smile and say hello. He says . . . wait for it . . . “Hmm.” Yep, he just made some sort of “Hmm” noise that didn’t even involve opening his mouth and accompanied it with a nod of his head, as if to say “Hey! Welcome to Tuesday at work!” You know, without actually saying any sort of words, smiling, or well, common courtesy.
I realize that my approach to this kind of interaction may be tinged with southern sensibilities. I realize that not everyone is comfortable with smiling and being genial. I realize that maybe he had something on his mind. But “Hmm” is not a response. It’s not even a word; it’s a sound, and not even one that conveys much, except confusion, maybe.
So my advice? Smile. It won’t kill you. And you also won’t die on the spot if you maybe, once in awhile, just say hello to someone. Like a coworker, the check out person, that person that walks past your office and stares in 400 times a day (my desk now faces the door).
Have a happy Tuesday, guys! I’m hoping to not get yelled at about dress code again to day. 🙂