She came out of her building just as I was walking by. She smiled widely and leaned in, “I’m SO glad to see you!” she said. Under her breath she added something about there being a reason she was so glad, not just because I was great to see but something more tangible, but still. It felt great. It didn’t matter.
“I love that,” I said, beaming from ear to ear. “It’s so nice to hear that you’re glad to see me, and with such enthusiasm! People don’t often say the nice things they’re thinking.”
She nodded. “It’s true. They don’t. It’s embarrassing.”
“Why, though? Why is it embarrassing? I don’t get it, we’re all too ‘embarrassed’ even to tell people when they have something in their teeth, we can’t handle the role it means we play in their embarrassment…”
She nodded vehemently, throwing up her hands. “It’s true!”
Damn it, I’m not willing to just throw up my hands, this is ridiculous! So, we can’t say the nice things we are thinking because of our own insecurity, really? We can’t take that moment to say that thing that will make other people feel good?
Well, this woman had done it, and look what happened…we had a great connected conversation, one in which we were equal, engaged participants, all because of a simple enthusiastic “Good to see you!”
She said she had a teacher who had said that to students, “So good to see you…” and she always thought it was nice. “When I was teaching, I started to say it,” she said, quickly adding, “only when I meant it.”
The meaning it is definitely important. Imparting nice sentiments with enthusiasm magnifies the affect many times over. I do it every day, many times a day, offer a nice sentiment along with a little gold star and I am told, nearly each and every time how I’ve made someone’s day. And, far from being embarrassed, I am rewarded by the nice sentiment that I had a hand in brightening even just a moment in another person’s life. Try it. With or without a gold star, it works.