Is It Time to Kill Your Cool?


I never realized how rude I was until I visited my parents in North Carolina. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was greeted with hellos from almost everyone that walked by. I’m thinking- why are these people staring at me and going out of their way to speak? Don’t they have better things to do? I was tempted to put on my dark shades so I could keep moving at my usual New Yorker pace. But then it hit me— I’m the one with the problem! Am I so high-strung that I can’t acknowledge another human being that’s walking right next to me? And, when did I get too cool to simply say, Hello?

My parents are New York born, but they mastered that Southern hospitality thing. I watched how they waved to neighbors driving by, and smiled easily to greet those that stopped to speak. By the end of my visit, I actually envied that simple piece of humanity they experienced everyday. And, I challenged myself to return to New York a friendlier, and more inviting person.

It takes very little time to say hello, and to share a gentle smile with the people around us. It’s actually therapeutic to let your guard down enough to acknowledge someone else’s presence. I can’t say that I’ve mastered the art of greeting strangers just yet, but I’m working on it every day. I have the smile lines to prove it. And, by not taking myself so seriously, I’ve actually opened myself up to meet some great new friends.

Etiquette Tip: Acknowledge the presence of those around you. A simple “Hello,” “Good afternoon,” or “How are you?” not only shows your manners, but also allows others to appreciate you for noticing them. When it’s not appropriate to verbalize your greeting, use gestures like a friendly smile, nod, or wave to acknowledge others.

If you’ve mastered the art of being distracted or too cool to see what’s going on around you- recognize that your actions may be perceived as rude. Don’t let your preoccupation with yourself keep you from making the connections you need to be successful. You never know how far a simply hello may take you.

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