We All Need Positive Interactions

When you are walking along the street, and meet someone you don’t know, or know a little, do you smile, or head down walk on by? I’ve lived in places where the norm is one or the other. Usually, the greater the number of people, the less they interact with each other. I feel better, warmer, when I am able to exchange a smile and a pleasantry, rather than walking by unacknowledged. It’s nice to have the human connection.

How do you feel when a stranger offers you a smile, or a kind word? I remember a time, I was feeling low, unappreciated, invisible, a kind word from a stranger changed my day. 

My life was very busy with work and study. I didn’t have time for a social life, and wasn’t getting enough sleep (I wouldn’t recommend it as a lifestyle choice!!). I had had a particularly bad day. On the way home, I stopped in at a shop. When saying goodbye, the young shop assistant helping me said “Have a good day”. Having worked in a similar position previously, I knew this was the stock standard end of transaction greeting. What I hadn’t previously understood was that it could actually have a massive positive effect on someone who needed it. Feeling seen for the first time that day, I felt much better as I continued home.

I was at a wedding, a number of years ago. The table I was seated at was almost full, and conversation was flowing freely. I glanced over and noticed that only one person had arrived at the table next to us. The lone person seated at the table looked uncomfortable, and I imagined, rather lonely. I approached her and asked her to join our table until her friends arrived. Which she gratefully did. We chatted until her friends arrived. We both had a lovely evening and as we were leaving she approached me to thank me for including her. She said it had made her feel much more comfortable settling into the event.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

This is one of my favourite quotes. 

We associate different people with different feelings. While seeing one person approaching us, may promote feelings of happiness; others will promote a feeling of dread. We may not immediately remember why we feel this way, but the feeling is prominent.

“Keep smiling because optimism and friendliness will take you everywhere” – The Everygirl

What do you think about this quote? I like it, and it reminded me of a story, I will share with you.

I met a man some time ago, whose job involved going to almost every department of the organisation, with relative frequency. He always had a friendly demeanour, and was pleasant to everyone he met. He confided that most people reciprocated, but there was one who would only grunt at him, with a sour expression, when he greeted her in passing. He continued saying hello to her, the same as he did everyone else.

I loved his attitude, and he seemed to enjoy life, so I decided to ‘borrow a leaf’. Every few weeks I would need to interact with a colleague who I was a little scared of due to his gruff, rough demeanour. I had never seen him smile. I started to greet him in a friendly, welcoming way, (I acted, rather than reacting). I would ask him a little about himself, sharing a little of my own life with him. I discovered he was actually a lovely, pleasant man, who was going through a tough time. Life hadn’t been kind to him over the last few years. By turning my attitude around, I not only lost the fear, but made a new friend.

Have you noticed the way the attitudes of some people seem to envelop all of those around them? An example might be the entertainment director on a cruise , or motivational speaker, who deliberately uses their energy and words to make others feel motivated or inspired.

You probably know somebody with a similar, but slightly toned-down personality type to this. Generally, they are someone everyone wants to be around, to become friends with, because of the vibe they exude. This person helps all around them to feel valued, happy and content, and then pass this vibe onto others.

Someone else, perhaps someone you work with, or live with, also affects all of those around them. This person though, isn’t as sort after. They might yell a lot, or snap at anyone who crosses their path. The effect they have on you is dependent on the level of interaction you have with them, and your relationship to them. This person can also ‘infect’ others with their vibe, carrying the negativity with them for at least a short while.

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