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Hello. My Name Is . . . What’s Yours?

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Hello. My Name is . . . What’s Yours?
Alright. Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and think . . . when was the last time you befriended someone who was different than you? Someone who was not in your class or department. Someone who doesn’t belong to your church, organization or group. Sure we may exchange a slight smile in the store or at the gas station. However, most of us don’t bother to clearly pronounce the words, Hello. How are you? It’s often a quick mumble that is barely audible less known understandable.
I’m often guilty of this myself. Usually, I’m preoccupied with what to cook for dinner, the errands I have to run after work, and coordinating drop-off or pick-up for my three year old. The last thing on my mind is to acknowledge the person standing next to me in line. This isn’t an excuse. Okay . . .  maybe it is. Maybe that’s my way of justifying that I am comfortable right where I am, with the people I already know.
You may ask, what made you realize this? The other day I was coming out of the gym as the after work crowd was beginning to make their way in. As I was coming down the stairs, I spoke to a woman as an automated gesture. It was her response that caught my attention. Even though she was standing there, her delayed response suggested that she questioned if I was really talking to her. As I passed her, I realized that the bag she had in her hand was not a gym bag. It was a bag she used to collect cans from the trash container she was standing next to at the bottom of the stairs. And although there was quite a few after-work exercise enthusiasts (hurrying by to grab a machine before they fill up), no one acknowledged her there. And even though I acknowledged her, as I got to my car I started to feel bad that it wasn’t a genuine hello with a smile, but a robotic hello as I too moved past her on the stairs only to serve as a signal for my brain to tell my body to move over to pass by. The split second after I walked past her, it registered with me that she was surprised that I spoke, and noticed her.
Why are we sometimes reluctant to engage others? Is it because we’re afraid we may have to embrace or at the very least tolerate someone’s differences. That sounds like the cup is half empty. What about viewing the cup as half full? How about noticing that the baggage we all carry is valuable, even priceless. It’s what makes us unique and interesting. Listening and sharing those experiences with others is what I’ve found encourages me or allows me to help others along life’s journey. And think about it, isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? I’m convinced that the master plan for our lives involve our interdependence on others. No one person can make it alone. I believe that if it were meant to be that way, we wouldn’t feel the release of good endorphins when we reach out to help others. If you don’t believe me try it. Hold the door for someone. Offer a service or simply take the time to give direct eye contact while leaning slightly forward to offer someone your undivided attention. And while you’re at it, read that person’s body language and expressions so when it’s time you can offer quality feedback and not just a drab um hum. These gestures of kindness are free.
This week I challenge myself to reach out to someone new and offer them a gesture of kindness in hopes to express a word of encouragement that says I see you and you matter.
How about you?



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