And it got me thinking, “how often do I smile just to make someone else feel better?” Not that I am an overly cheery or optimistic person, but I try to make sure that I stay positive in most situations, especially those involving my students. So I decided to run a little experiment. Instead of greeting people I know in the hallway with a ‘hello’ or ‘how are you doing?’, I would greet them with only a smile and see what I get in return. Now, if a person greeted me with a verbal response, then I would reciprocate, but otherwise it was only a smile. Without keeping an accurate account (it would look weird if I was walking through the hallways with a clipboard and making tally marks on it), here are my approximate results:
- Number of people greeted with a smile: 45
- Number of smiles received in return: 37
- Number of people who didn’t respond at all: 2
- Number of people who didn’t smile, but responded with other positive acknowledgement: 6
- Of those who smiled, number who added verbal response: 15
- Of those who smiled, number who added non-verbal response (wave of hand, head nod): 10
- Of those who smiled, number who honked car horn repeatedly at me: 1
In almost every situation, when a person saw me smiling at them and they smiled in return, their face became more illuminated, they stood up straighter an they seemed to forget whatever it was they were thinking about the split second before. The other observation I made was that I felt better about my day as I was doing all of this. I stopped caring about the technology issues I was having, didn’t mind being delayed in the hallways by slow moving students and overall had a fantastic Monday.
There is a cashier at the QuikChek near my house who is excellent at her job. She chats with customers, has excellent knowledge of all merchandise in the store and is extremely efficient. But, no matter what she is doing, no matter how busy she is, she greets every single person who walks in the store with a hello and a smile. I stopped there is morning at 5:30am and when I was greeted with that huge smile, I was forced to smile myself. That woman made my morning by the simplest of acts.
It is tough being an educator these days. But, no matter what is going on in your life, greet someone with a smile. That tiny gesture will pay itself back tenfold.