These and perhaps hundreds of other greetings are muttered throughout our culture with no thought and even less sincerity. We have almost a knee-jerk reaction to seeing someone and respond by robotically throwing out a perfunctory salution. But this is better than some, who instead walk into a room and nearly ignore everyone there out of shyness or self-absorption.
As a father to four children I have tried to teach them against their natural tendencies to enter a room and make eye contact, greet people, and show a heartfelt interest in others. Nothing is more common than a mute child who won't acknowledge adults and won't speak audibly when spoken to. Some of this is understandable in children, of course, they being new to the art of human relations and easily intimidated by tall people who have hair growing on their face (especially when they're women). Nonetheless, we parents must make an effort to train them to notice and interact with others. It is at least as important as getting them to eat their spinach.
The sad part, however, is that so many children don't really grow up, but merely grow bigger. They reach "maturity" without even rudimentary people skills or manners. This is not only unfortunate but annoying, and it even finds its way into driving habits - but then, I digress.
To come at it from a positive side, I was recently making my way into a public place when I realized how glad I was to see a certain individual. We greeted and began chatting amicably and time passed without notice. Afterwards I reflected for a bit on just why this person holds such a pleasant spot in my mind, and it occurred to me at once that it was at least in part because of his greetings. Having taken note of this, I watched more carefully at our next interaction, and witnessed this same person breaking the silence barrier by approaching newcomers to our circle and offering his hand as an introduction first. His face lit with a smile, his eye contact was warm and direct, and his voice was all welcome.
Greetings, I thought. A moment in time. A brief second, perhaps. A lifetime of goodwill fostered.
Could it be that simple?
Well, certainly if it's backed by a pure heart and good intentions. After all, sincerity is impossible to defend against. But given good intentions as a constant, the person who makes a sincere, hearty greeting, either to a stranger but especially to a friend or acquintance, will carry the day every time. How can we resist someone who lights up at our appearance? How can we harbor ill feelings toward someone who is outwardly glad at our arrival? How can we resist wanting to become better friends with this fascinating, and obviously intelligent creature?
I would suggest that in our cell phone world this principle is equally important for telephone greetings. I don't mean the word "hello," but the reaction to the knowledge of the caller's identity. "Oh, Mike! Glad to hear from you! How have you been?" You get the idea. This stuff is so simple and obvious it is hardly needs mentioning. Or does it?
So consider the following questions:
1. How are you at walking into a room and taking notice of the individuals there?
2. Do you make eye contact, provide heartfelt greetings, and introduce yourself to strangers?
3. Upon seeing an acquaintance or friend, do you light up and project gladness at seeing them?
4. Do you introduce others into your "circle" and make efforts to connect people and make them feel accepted?
5. Do you likewise exude warm greetings on a telephone call?
These are simple but extremely fruitful concepts to make habitual in our lives. Other people matter. The Bible tells us to esteem others higher than ourselves. One of the easiest, cheapest, and simplest way to do this is with proper greetings.
So, when it comes to greetings . . .
How are you?