Have you ever been out on a run and crossed paths with another runner? You make eye contact and then you throw a quick smile with a hello...only to be completely ignored in return.
Perhaps you walked into an appointment at your dentist’s office and you’re on your phone texting back someone at work, when the person at the front desk said “Hi, how are you?” And you simply reply: “I’m here for my 9:00 am appointment” not knowing that you completely ignored the original question.
I think we’ve all been there before. We reach out to say the first hello and don’t quite get the same back. Then at times, we’re the ones that walk into a room not really thinking much of others, but our own agenda.
I used to get so frustrated with people who didn’t say hello or who walked past me without any kind of acknowledgement.
Then I started to observe a difference in those that practiced proactive kindness versus reactive kindness. The most positive individuals that I know have this amazing ability to make others feel loved and noticed. They are very proactive in their way of communicating. They step in a room and are just able to bring about a positive atmosphere.
Think of a positive person in your life..or take notice next time you see them. Does he or she walk into a room with a neutral stare? Or do they come in with a smile on their face? Are they the first ones to say hello to the waiter in the restaurant or do they wait to be acknowledged first. Most likely that person knows the power of kindness and when they walk into a room, they bring a certain level of energy that’s able to impact all others in the room. I’m not talking about being loud and obnoxious so you get noticed, I’m simply talking about coming in with confidence, a smile and simple hello.
I used to be that person that would go anywhere and immediately feel a sense of judgement coming from others, so I just kept it to my neutral self and waited to be acknowledged. Because I was raised by my parents to be polite, I always replied with a hello and a smile...although I was never the first to initiate it. I realized I was being reactively kind. I was reactive to the initial kindness brought forth by someone else.
The problem with the reactively kind person is that you’re allowing others to dictate your mood.
It’s all fine if that other person initiating the acknowledgement is in a good mood, but if they are in a bad mood, then it can contaminate the entire room and leave you feeling a little down.
Let’s say you walk into a store and immediately start looking around without acknowledging anyone. You also don’t get acknowledged because they didn’t notice you coming in. No biggie. You keep browsing. Then you realize some employees chatting in the corner and you’re looking to checkout. Immediately, you may start to get irritated because of the cycle of little events that took place. Your mind may start thinking “What are they paying these employees for, to chat?” “Why didn’t I get any help” or “My time is valuable, I have to go!”
Now if you were to go in the store and immediately made eye contact and said hello to an employee, things may have turned out differently and you wouldn't have been agitated.
Be proactively kind. Don’t rely on others to make your day great. Make your own day great by adapting the right mentality. It’s a powerful thing.
Whatever you put out into the world is what you’ll get back. Put out negative energy and you’ll get negative energy back. Put out positive energy and you’ll experience all sorts of positive events bouncing back to you. You may not get it right away and you may even experience some really bad events, but you may just get it back at the right time by a complete stranger when you’re having a bad day.
Let me ask you:
When was the last time you asked for the name of the cashier at your local grocery store?
When you returned something at the store, do you politely say hello to the person on the other side of the register, or do you go into automatic defense mode just in case they ask why you’re returning the item?
Do you wave to other runners or walkers when you’re out on your workout routine?
We all lead busy lives and some of you may be thinking, I don’t have time to say hello to everyone I run into--I would never get anything done. I understand and I’m not suggesting you do that. As tacky as it may sound, a simple smile and hello may just be what someone needs to make their day a little brighter. And if you don’t get anything back, that’s ok--don’t take it personal. It’s not you, it’s them. Just know that you did your part. You never know what each person is battling.
Don’t let their insecurities become a part of your life. No one is really out there to judge you...and hey if they were, does it really matter?
Those that judge you don’t matter, and those that matter aren’t there to judge you.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Know that every room you walk into, you have the choice of bringing a positive or negative energy. This is your chance to make an impact, even though it may be small. When you bring that positive energy, that’s exactly what you get in return. You’ll also feel better by doing it. The same goes for negative energy, so be careful. When you walk into a room, bring the energy! Walk in with confidence, a smile and a genuine hello.
Don’t wait to be acknowledged. Reactive kindness is easy to do, but the difference makers of the world practice proactive kindness.
Be the change.
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