I read an article in this month's Readers Digest (I never claimed to be cool) about a man who ran a pretty cool social experiment. For thirty days this man greeted every person he saw. He said "hello" and smiled at everyone he saw and then recorded his findings. 

My first thought after reading the article was, "I've got to get a grant to do research like that!"

My second thought, which quickly followed the first, was that I wanted to try the experiment. He listed some of his findings in the article, which is worth reading if you can find the issue. I've only done the experiment for a week, but here are some of mine:

1. This is much harder than it sounds. Typically strangers avoid eye contact, which makes social contact almost impossible - even in Texas where people pride themselves on being friendly. But, for most people, this seems to be a subconscious reaction. It feels awkward to say hello to someone who is looking away from you, but they almost always smile and return the greeting. 

2. I realized the people I often ignored. I've found I can make someone's day if I simply say hello to them like I mean it. Pay attention to the way people treat the checker at Walmart the next time you have to go there. Most people don't even say hello. 

3. Being friendly is a discipline. I have to remind myself to say "hello," and I'm not a naturally unfriendly person. It takes some work to remember to say hello and smile people you pass. It isn't that I don't want to be friendly - it's that I'm not proactive about being friendly as often as I thought. 

Try it for a week and let me know how it goes. Discipline  yourself to say hello and smile at everyone you pass - at work, school, church, shopping, getting gas, on the highway. See if it doesn't tweak your perspective a bit. 

"Greet each other in Christian love" (Romans 16:16; NLT)


chloeadele said...

yeah, we wouldn't need welcome committees and greeters at church if being friendly came naturally.

this is a great idea. I wonder if you'd get different reactions depending on where in the world you did this. People in Fort Worth might respond differently than people in New York or Turkey or China.