How many times a day do you meet and greet someone?

Is the hello you give to others a fleeting fake flippancy, or is it a gracious genuine greeting?

How many times do those greetings you give or get mean something worthwhile? Have you ever stopped to think about just how much mileage you could get out of those habitual, carelessly tossed out hiyas and how ya doin’s you barely think about anymore?

These thoughts came to mind for me in the past few days because within my Managing with Aloha Jumpstart program we have been talking about articulating Aloha. Linguists tell us that the two Hawaiian words most recognized in the rest of the world are Hawai‘i, the name of my island home, and Aloha. For most people outside Hawai‘i, aloha means “hello and goodbye — right?”

The answer is yes, and much more.

However my purpose here is not to hawk Aloha. Let’s just talk about your greeting for others, even if Aloha is never the word you choose to use; I do accept that it may be outside your comfort zone. Let’s talk about what you do say, and more importantly, how you say it.

Most of us simply don’t pay attention to our greetings at all. We may ask, “How are you?” but we keep moving and hustle on by, and we don’t stop to hear an answer. We barely make eye contact, and our smile has become a casualty of neglect.

So understandably, many people don’t bother answering us. They might just raise their eyebrows or slightly nod their heads, and they don’t feel they are being rude or are ignoring us; they accept that we didn’t really expect an answer anyway. They are quite sure we had tossed out our quick greeting to be polite.

Polite?!?

Well, if that’s polite, I dread the thought of what else we consider acceptable before we reach the dregs of rude. Our standards of acceptable behavior have gotten to be pretty appalling.

Worse is the gaping neglect. How about those people you might pass by every day, and because they are always just there, or you don’t know them that well, you never bother greeting them at all. Head down, you pass them by as if they don’t even exist.

And what about your family? Are the ones who near never get your morning greeting or evening farewell, the same ones that you actually profess to love most in the world, the ones you claim to be living your life in a meaningful way for? Are they the ones you take for granted most of all?

If we want to be treated with dignity and respect, we have to conduct ourselves with distinction first. We must be deserving, and it seems to me a decent greeting given to others who bring our world to vivid life is a good way to start. This is February, the month meant for loving each other, remember?

Listen, I admit I neglect my aloha greetings at times too. However I want to get better. Sometimes my writing is my own wake up call, that’s the beauty of opportunities like this (thank you Leon!)

So are you with me?

We can start with committing to a new habit of giving gracious, genuine greetings to others in every single encounter. It is not difficult, and it really doesn’t take that much time. And so what if it does take a few more moments? Would that really be all that bad? Mere moments, with intentional aloha in your greeting could work magic for you.

That “more” in aloha is so much about attitude. It is about the love of self and love of others, unconditionally, and always giving the benefit of the doubt because you expect to find good in others. It is about having thankfulness that you are not on this planet all alone. It is about realizing how fleeting life may turn out to be, and living it in the best possible way in every single moment.

Join me in my campaign for gracious, genuine greetings:
——Stop in your tracks.
——Make eye contact and smile broadly and sincerely. Get your eyes to smile too.
——Say “Hello, it’s good to see you today” and mean it.
——If you ask a question, stick around for the answer and be interested in it. Respond in kind, and enjoy the conversation.
——When someone greets you and asks how you are, say “I am so much better now for having you ask me, thank you!”

Then drink in the magic. I can guarantee you it will happen.
My aloha to you, sincerely,
Rosa

Article referenced here: Can you help me articulate aloha? ——[There are some great, very insightful comments at the end of the article.]

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Long Live the Calendar.

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