Mama was wrong!
I have lived in Vancouver for much of my life and one of the things I notice here is that people, especially men, do not make eye contact when passing them on the street. Many of my women friends notice this as well. When I was in Italy a few years ago, not only did I have eye contact the minute I landed at the airport in Rome, I had a dinner invitation for that evening. I have to ask, why is this? This isn’t just the dynamic between men and women, it’s the lack of connection as human beings and it seems a West coast dynamic.
I recently read an article in Success Magazine’s October issue by Meilissa Balmain. In it she outlined the many benefits of reaching out to strangers. She cited studies by Harvard Business School’s Social Science researchers that suggested chatting with strangers can help us be happier. Most who do reach out, whether at a networking event or in the elevator, enjoyed the experience and were in a better mood afterwards. Doing this on a regular basis was found to help with the development of empathy and a better understanding of people you would never meet otherwise.
Kids are great at this. My 10 year old son has no problem going up to another child in a playground, introducing himself and minutes later he is off with the other child enjoying himself. The other day we were in my car and he waived to a boy in a car next to us, and the boy waived back. I thought this was so adorable and so natural!
Kids just have fewer hangups around fear and rejection and they tend to live in the moment. I think it is time we adults learn from their “boldness” and do a better job of engaging humanity on a daily basis. You will feel better and probably help someone else feel better as well. And isn’t that a great way for us all to contribute daily in making the world a better place?