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Say Hello to a Stranger and Your Mood will Improve

Hello, Good morning, G’day, top of the morning to you, or any number of other greetings that people say to one another when they meet. These greetings have enormous power to effect our moods, and the mood of others; but they are not necessarily given much thought outside of general pleasantries.

Most people don’t greet or say hello to people that they don’t know. I started working in a new hospital 7 months ago. I didn’t know anybody and frankly this made me a bit uneasy. So every person that I walked past in the hallway whether it was a nurse, a therapist, EVS, or nutrition staff, I said hello. That’s it a simple warm, heart felt hello. What I noticed is that I received varied responses. Some people would respond with a guarded hello, others were happy to be acknowledged, and responded in kind with a warm hello, and then another subset of people responded negatively. Of those that responded negatively, I was often asked, “why are you in such a good mood.” I found this distressing as clearly these people were unhappy and were not able to self manage their emotional state well. I would try and take a moment to interact with these people to let them know that I was happy to listen to them, or hear what they were going through. Thankfully these encounters were far and few between.

I also noticed that saying hello allowed me to start building relationships. I was able to show very quickly to staff members that I was approachable and happy to engage and answer questions. I was able to get to know other physicians more quickly as well. But the most interesting aspect about saying hello to all of these people was the effect on my mood. I found that saying hello, eased my anxiety about starting in a new hospital. I also noticed I had increased energy. Most people responded positively and when that would happen I would feel myself gain energy from that encounter.

I also found that people that I was greeting gained energy from the encounter as well. Instead of it being a transfer of positive energy from one person to the other, the energy would be multiplied and we would both have a favorable encounter. Even those people that responded negatively, after some time talking with them, would have a change in attitude.

So how is it that simply by saying hello to people we can improve our mood?

  1. When you are genuinely saying hello and are pleased to meet someone even in passing, you can not be frustrated or angry. It simply doesn’t work. If you are upset or frustrated when walking down the hall, try saying hello to someone, and you will find that you have to self manage your emotion to a state of happiness before you can say hello in a genuine manner.

  2. If you are in a foul humor, by forcing yourself to start saying hello to people that you pass, you will self manage to happiness.

  3. If you pass someone who is having a rough day, or is struggling personally, you will likely help that individual as well. All people enjoy being acknowledged. Especially if you are someone of import within your organization. Everyone likes to be acknowledged by the CEO, or a manager or supervisor.

Saying Hello, and acknowledging people can only help to increase positive energy, for both you and the person you are greeting. I challenge you to try this when you return to work next!

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