I recently read an article in Reader’s Digest entitled, “What If You Said Hello to Everyone In Your Path for a Month?” that really made me stop and think. Could something as simple as saying “hello” more often make a difference to a workplace environment?

One of the conclusions from the article is that, nowadays, many people are taken aback when someone is friendly or simply utters a casual “hello”. I admit I am one of those people. Often we get too caught up in our cell phone conversations or are just too busy to acknowledge those who cross our path daily. And when we do hear someone unexpectedly say “hello”, it catches us off guard. But when you think about it, smiling and greeting someone takes so very little time and effort, but the benefits can be seen and felt almost immediately.

A recent guest post by Kristen Leal on the HRGuy blog highlights how disconnected some workplaces have become:

“I was filling up my water bottle one day at work when I saw a business card pinned up on the bulletin board above me. It was for a photographer, who happened to work for my company, and did some professional photography on the side. So I headed back to my desk and decided to look up her name in our company email list. I emailed her and asked her if she had some time to come photograph my family. We emailed back and forth a couple of times, and then I decided that I should probably meet with her to go over a couple of things. I emailed her, and asked where her desk was, “It’s two cubes away from yours.” What? Ok, I was feeling pretty lame at this point. Thankfully, she initially thought I was in another wing of the building as well, so we both had a good laugh over it.”

While a simple gesture, like saying “hello” or “good morning” daily to your colleagues can help to reinforce a respectful (and friendly) workplace, there’s more to it than that. Taking the time to acknowledge and learn more about our colleagues is what turns a workplace into a community – and helps you avoid embarrassing incidents like the one above!

So why does saying “hello” help?

  1. It boosts our own self-esteem when we take the time to acknowledge others.
  2. It esteems and values others when we recognize and acknowledge them.
  3. It reinforces relationships and the willingness to help each other.
  4. When coupled with a smile, a simple “hello” can’t help but put the greeter into a good mood.

Try it today!

Say “hello” (with a smile) to at least 3 people at your workplace and see what happens!

*Editor’s note: this article was originally published December 3, 2008.

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