Hello is a most powerful word. Interestingly, it has an impact on both the hello-er and the hello-ee, if I might take some liberty with the language. It turns out that it has profound physical effects on both parties too. If only we take advantage of this great tool. A search on Google for the phrase “the value of saying hello” returned 19.2 million results!
Saying hello makes others aware that you notice them. People want to be noticed. A hello can be a lifeline to someone and you won’t even know it.
It has been estimated that 1 in 5 Americans, more than 60 million people, suffer from loneliness. Loneliness can increase mortality risk by as much as 45%. Older lonely people are 64% more likely to develop dementia. In today’s digital age, isolation is even more of a problem.
If you say hello and smile, you can actually change someone’s mood. Smiling releases endorphins so it is good for you to do. And smiling is contagious.
I run and walk a lot so, I encounter many people in my journeys and I say hello to them all! Seniors, school children, dog walkers, you name it I say hello to them. Heck I even acknowledge drivers who I run in front of at stop signs and even their passengers if it makes sense. And I would estimate over 90% answer back. Funny but even mean, sullen, sulking dudes and young kids usually return the greeting! A surprising number smile. And some even say more than hello back. Amazing!
When I see the same people day after day, invariably the hello gets enriched. Comments about the weather, for instance.
Lest you think the benefits are all one-sided, I would disagree. Remember the endorphins? They get boosted for you too when someone answers back. And it somehow seems to positively affect your attitude towards people in general.
As for the small percentage who don’t answer . . . I tend to persist and I have often been rewarded by a hello after a few repetitions. You can never know what is affecting them so, be understanding.
My challenge to you is to try it for a month. Make it a point to smile and say hello to the strangers you meet on the street, shopping, or even people you don’t know at work. See if the percentage of people who respond doesn’t surprise you. And see if it doesn’t make you feel better.
This easy expression of humanity is simple to do, costs nothing, generates good will and will help make you feel great!