You Had Me At "Hello"

By Valerie Mangrum • February 21, 2014

I'll be the first to admit that I am not a "people person." I'm not particularly shy, by definition, but I suffer from social anxiety. My comfort-level in social circumstances is to fly beneath the radar, being perfectly pleasant but not sitting in anyone's lap. The whole notion of "working a room" is lost on me. It's something, as a professional, that I've had to deal with over the years, usually quite clumsily. I've attended countless business lunches, dinners, and functions where I circled the room for ten minutes, said hello to people I knew, introduced myself to ones I didn't, and then promptly took my place at a safe location -- my assigned seat or perhaps a back corner.

Part of my reluctance to be a social butterfly is my mid-term memory. If I know your name, I'll say hello by name. "Good morning, Fred. How are you?" But if I don't have that 100% feeling, you may just get a nod and a "hey there." But I will say something.

At each job I've held, there's always been the requisite grump. You might have encountered this person or may even be this person at your job. You pass them in the hall, you nod and say hello, sometimes even by name, and they may or may not return your nod and they don't say a word. I've always found this behavior curious and wondered what would make someone act this way. I mean, here I am, a self-proclaimed hermit, and I still break out of my proverbial shell enough to say "how do?" But then, guess what? I got to know my last grump and she surprised me. We found ourselves paired up on a project over a period of time and, over the course of that project, I realized she was not grumpy at all. In fact, she was brilliant and funny and shy.

So, today's lesson is to give folks the benefit of the doubt and don't be so quick to judge that book. It's cover may be frosty and not very cuddly, but there could be something spectacular inside.

"I believe every single person deserves to be acknowledged, however small or simple the greeting." -Howard White, VP for Nike's Jordan Brand

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