The Power Of Hello

I look back over the course of my career and I notice that there are really only a handful of managers that I remember fondly and would consider them to be a “good boss.” Sometimes it’s difficult to identify what makes them stand out as a successful leader so I took some time to ponder this, in hopes of becoming someone who can be remembered as such in the future.  I discovered there is one thing each of them did on a daily basis… an action that crossed all industries and companies in my life, both past and present.

They said hello.

Simple, really. Genius, when you think about it.  Each of these managers, including the two managers I currently work for, took time out of their morning to say hello to each and every employee.  It didn’t take a lot of time per person.  Just a check-in, an opportunity to see what challenges each of us were facing (personal or professional), offer a smile, a word of encouragement, and then off they went to start their day.  It might take a total of twenty minutes to complete the round, but it set the tone for the day…

That WE are their priority.  The first thing they think about.  A prized asset, a friend.  The simple act of saying hello opens doors of relationship and intimacy…in and out of the office. I am a firm believer that employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I am a firm believer that employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.[/pullquote]

I stayed longer in those companies because of the people I worked with, especially the managers. These leaders made me feel valued.  They listened.  They took the time to invest in my life and my career.  All starting with a simple “hello.”

The human race can take this powerful workplace tactic and apply it to other areas of our lives.  Can you imagine what would happen if we put down our smartphones on the train or the bus and said hello to the person next to us?  What about in the line at the supermarket?  Instead of silence and mistrust, we might have community again.

I hear from my elders how they used to live in cul-de-sacs of neighbors who said hello to one another, baked cookies and welcomed the newbies, and didn’t have to lock their doors and windows at night.  It makes me wonder if we could get back to that level of simplicity by saying hello. “Hi” would work, too, you know.

So much power in one little word. [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]So much power in one little word.[/pullquote]

Power to heal a broken marriage when the two ex-lovers have stonewalled each other and only speak through their attorneys. The power to feed that homeless person that we walk by everyday without a word because we’re afraid of being inconvenienced.  The power to connect a family disconnected by tablets, smartphones, computers, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and dare I say…LinkedIn. The power to reduce nuclear tensions when two countries have their missiles pointed at each other.

Perhaps the only other word that might be more powerful is “sorry.”  Ironic, that “sorry” usually comes after “hello.”  What a marriage of words!

I’ve been searching for a new church lately that is closer to home so I can more easily get involved.  Anyone who has ever tried to find a new church might know how incredibly draining it is.  I’ve been to several and I think I have finally found a new “home.”  A major difference was not only did they say “hello” beyond the obligatory greeter that is stationed at the door and who has the Barbie-plastic smile plastered on their reluctant face, but I had people take me around and introduce me to everyone. Then I had people get my number and actually contact me.  The pastor contacted me.  And they continue to say hello…all the time!  That’s investment.  That’s genuine caring.  No surprise that I’m still going and getting involved.  It’s honestly rare to find.

Even my job depends on the power of hello.  Recruiting not only demands that I connect with people, but people reach out and say hello to me all the time.  Why?  Sure, they want a job and I want to help them find one…but it’s the beginning of a relationship and a conversation, no matter how brief.  Nothing happens unless we say hello first.

Redundant, I know.  Simple, even silly. But if we don’t start taking this one simple word (which is really an action and a revolution all rolled up into five letters) more seriously, more intentionally, then we may find ourselves at the end of our lives with a lot of cool Instagram photos and no one to change our bed pan.

So, I don’t know about you, but I plan to say hello to a lot more people this week and see where the cookie crumbles.  I suspect it’ll crumble right into place.

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