A few days ago I blogged about an incredible revelation I had while walking my dog. That post was one of my most popular ever! Thanks for the great feedback! I’ve been trying the Sadie Experiment for about a week now, and I already have some observable outcomes to report on.
First, just like Sadie, people LOVE to be enthusiastically greeted. They love being told that you’re happy to see them, especially when it is true. It is possible to overdo it, of course, but a genuine, enthusiastic greeting seems to make everyone smile.
Second, the energy produced in the enthusiastic greeting appears to be returned. In groups, it seems to multiply exponentially. This really drives home to me how emotions tend to be mirrored among people. Greeting people like Eeyore will not usually elicit an enthusiastic response. Apathetic greetings won’t typically engender interest from others. Enthusiastic greetings are your best bet to get an enthusiastic response.
On Thursday mornings there is a ladies Bible study at the church building. I love these ladies and how supportive they’ve been during our attempts to get our niece. This week, as the ladies arrived, I focused on my appreciation for them as I welcomed them. After two or three of them were in the hall with me, the level of enthusiasm was high enough to get the attention of the ladies already in the classroom. Before too long, there were eight or so of us in the hallway making all kinds of racket as we greeted each other.
Third, the greeting is not the destination. This is where the parallels between greeting dogs and greeting humans start to separate. After I greet Sadie for a bit, I push her aside and go on with my business. With humans, though, the greeting is probably the lest substantive part of the interaction. I’ve also noticed a tendency for people that are greeted enthusiastically to respond with body language that suggests they are either receptive of or desirous of… A HUG!!!!
You should know about me that I’m not much of a hugger. I’ve traveled enough to know that sometimes hugs are appropriate and sometimes they aren’t… and I don’t know which is which. Then there’s the whole technique of it. Which arm goes up, which goes down. Do you turn the head to the left or the right. If you zig and the other person zags, you could end up with a full-on mouth kiss. To avoid all the potential for issues, I’ve tended to just avoid hugs.
However, in the midst of our Thursday morning greeting I found myself faced with ladies that not only expected a hug, they were going to take one whether I was willing or not. After being hugged by two, I looked up and saw all the other ladies looking back at me. I had to think quick… should I let the awkwardness overcome me and sneak back to my office or should I just hug everyone. Throwing caution and awkwardness to the wind, I announced “Hugs for everyone!” and proceded hug everyone there.
After we moved into the classroom, where I joined for a few minutes to update them on Madeleine, I informed them that I’m not much of a hugger. The response of one of our sweet ladies has transformed me into a hugger for life.
Pay attention, the lesson starts here.
One of the ladies responded, “You don’t know what it’s like to live alone. You see people every day, but when you hug one of us widows it may be the only human touch we’ve received all week.” Doesn’t that just cut you straight to the heart?!
Challenge: If you have widows/singles/orphans in your churches or neighborhoods, give them a hug when you see them. Not in a creepy way, of course, but in a way that reminds them that they have value, that they’re loved, and that the image of God shines through them still.