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What Would It Cost You to Smile, Greet or Just Nod?

Updated on April 21, 2017

Can't you speak

I was just wondering, what would you pay for a smile, one dollar, one million dollars? What about, a hello, how are you, or just a simple nod? Can you put a price on these things? When you come face to face with someone, what would it hurt simply to acknowledge their presence, a nod, a smile, a tilt of the head, or why not a simple greeting, (hi, hello, etc)? It appears, today that these things are very expensive. I say that because, when I come face to face with someone, it's as if, I need to fork over some serious cash to get even a slight smile, never mind a greeting. These statements might seem a little abundant, but bear with me here, I'm making a point.

When I was growing up in the deep south, (Georgia to be exact), it was a definite must, that you speak to everybody you meet, or just passed on the street. Maybe I should rephrase that, it was a given. From an early age, we knew what was expected of us. For instance, when we would pass someone on our way to the store or to visit someone, we'd say "hey, mister, or miss whoever." Now on the way back from that location, the expectation was to repeat the greeting. No one found that at all strange, it was just a way of life. If for any reason, we didn't speak, the "offended" would simply say, "can't you speak." If you were young enough your parents would hear of it. In those days, we were raised by a "Village," or so it seemed, and we all felt so safe.

When I moved to my present state, things were quite different. I was in for a serious culture shock. One day while walking past two ladies, conversing across the fence with one another, I, with my great big toothy grin, said, a very enthusiastic "Hi." One said a tentative "Hi," the other didn't speak at all. As I was passing, I overheard their conversation, which went something like this, "who is that, I don't know, I thought you knew her, I don't know her." That was the exchange that went on between the two. That didn't deter me, I kept that up for a long time, but had to curtail it somewhat, due to the lack of response. That was then, this is now, News flash, what I experienced way back then, I experience now, no matter where I go, across the country, or across the world. No place has escaped the new "I don't know you," attitude. I've learned not to assume that I will get a response when I try to speak to somebody, however, to a limited degree, I still try.

Try this

We seem to think that we have to know everybody we greet. Granted we have to be careful not to go to extremes in our attempts  to make friends. However, I'm not really talking about making friends, just a greeting, and or a smile. What would be the harm in saying a friendly hello, or just a smile, or even a slight nod of the head to acknowledge someones presence. Who's to say that you won't make the day of someone that teetering on the brink of, whatever. Sometimes we walk around seemingly with the weight of the world on our shoulders, and just to be acknowledged, and made to feel like we matter, could be all that we need.

Why not try this, everyday, attempt to make one person's day. The way to do this is, get the attention of someone we meet, and say hello, smile, or just a nod, to acknowledge their presence. You could be pleasantly surprised. Be careful though, suspicion abounds, so if your attempts are rebuffed, don't press the issue, move on, there's someone else out there that would appreciate it. Most of us feel, that in the grand scheme of things, we're nobody anyway, and that is true, but if just one person gave us the time of day, it could just make our day.

Up till now I've been talking about stranger on stranger encounters, but what about our acquaintances, our work mates, or even family members with whom we live. You see, we sometimes feel as if we're the only person that matters in this world, and if it's not done to us, why should we make the attempt. Why? Well, let's consider the Golden Rule, do to others as you would have them do to you. So if you want to be considered, then consider others. Think about this, you want to be acknowledged, or made to just feel like you matter, well make someone else feel that way. I have a tendency at times to walk up to an acquaintance and just begin a conversation, without greeting them, and because they know me so well, they will simply say, "hello, how's your day," or something to that effect. You see I tend to take my acquaintances for granted and I am so appreciative for the reminder, and I am truly working on that.

My mother use to say, if we walked into a room, without speaking to her, "did I sleep with you last night?" So upon entering any room, why not just smile, say hello, or just nod. Try this, ask someone "how's your day, (sincerely), and listen for the response, and respond accordingly. Upon entering your place of employment, smile, speak, or just nod. Even before you get to work, at the service station, the coffee house, etc, greet them with a smile, make their day. How much does it cost you for those simple pleasantries?

You can change

Maybe at this point, you're saying, "I've been this way all my life, and I can't change." Yes you can, just put forth the effort. Be determined to change, after all, it's a simple gesture that will cost you nothing, but that could yield substantial dividends. You could make someones day, you could be the just the catalyst a person needs to make it through a difficult time, or just think, your day could be made. So when someone acknowledges you, go ahead and speak, smile, or just nod. Better still, you take the initiative to speak, smile or just give a nod, and see what your day could be like. Then when the question is asked, "what's the cost of a smile or a greeting, you can say inestimable.

© 2009 Alfreta Sailor


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    • fastfreta profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfreta Sailor 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      Torontonian, you're so right about who usually will respond, I find the same here, no matter what state I find myself in. Just as you said don't let it get you down, just continue to do what you do. Thanks for stopping.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a great article. I used to acknowledge everyone I would pass on the street when I first moved to Toronto years ago. That didn't go too well. I scaled back to just my neighbourhood and times i'm directly interacting with people, holding a door or something. I'd say it's around a 50% response rate, but almost never young ppl and almost definitly never trendy dressing young ppl. But can't let it get ya down :)

    • fastfreta profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      When I wrote the article I wasn't even thinking of the smartphones, because they weren't as popular, but now, oh boy, as you said the situation has gotten worse. So they add to the unsociable attitudes of the people. Thanks MarketingJunkie for that insight. Thanks for stopping, I'll go over and read that link.

    • MarketingJunkie profile image


      8 years ago

      Agree here, too. Everyone has their head down at the sidewalk.

      I think it's those stupid smartphones. Ugggg!

      Maybe everyone can read up on how to be more outgoing here:

    • fastfreta profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Travis, since I've been on the road traveling, I find that all over the country. But me, as always, I try to speak, sometime it works, others it doesn't, but I go on undaunted speaking anyway.

      I must go over and read your hub. Thanks for stopping, see you soon.

    • profile image

      Travis James 3D 

      8 years ago


      I agree with you SO much! I live in Boston where it seems that nobody wants to acknowledge each other's presence. People are locked in their own little world and if you say "Hi" it's like you're shattering a wall of glass they have constructed around them.

      However... even here... a smile goes a long way to opening people up. I even wrote about it here...

      Keep on smiling and brightening the world! I'll do my best too.


    • fastfreta profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      You too, peanutroaster, what's wrong with us? Seriously though, that's a sad commentary for the state of the world today. Thanks for stopping, hope to see you again soon.

    • peanutroaster profile image


      8 years ago from New England

      I meet people every day in passing and smile and say hello and they look at me like I've got two heads.

    • fastfreta profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfreta Sailor 

      9 years ago from Southern California

      Luv.poem, I know what you mean, people are so surprised, sometimes to the point of not being able to speak themselves. I don't meet many people like you around these parts, please keep it up, you see what a difference it makes. Thanks for stopping, please come back.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love this hub! I try to make it a point to smile at everyone I see on the street and open doors for the people around me when I'm out shopping. Everyone always seems so shocked at these small acts of kindness. You would think I gave them CPR and saved their life instead of simply opening a door.

      Thank you for sharing your insights!

    • fastfreta profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfreta Sailor 

      10 years ago from Southern California

      Glad to meet you AllMomneeds2know, Thanks for stopping by. Come again soon.

    • AllMomNeeds2know profile image


      10 years ago

      I agree. I am also the type of person to say hi but it's rare for people to do that. Great article. When we say hi to others and really care about how they are doing the love will flow.


    • fastfreta profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfreta Sailor 

      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks DynamicS, I must check out your hub. Thanks for stopping by.

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      fastfreta, thanks for such great hub. I TOTALLY agree with you. I did a hub recently about Inspirationon the Road, where I spoke of some inpirations that I got while on a roadtrip through south-eastern USA. At the end of the hub, I admonished my readers to do just what you have said in your hub. Say "How are you?" and smile with the people you meet.

      I have been trying this of late. Like you I was raised that greeting people you meet is a form of respect. I had the same reaction you had, when I moved to North America. It was surprising to say the least, that people don't even acknowledge your presence. I still cannot get use to the idea of people not greeting each other.

      Thanks for such great reminder to reconnect...

    • fastfreta profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfreta Sailor 

      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks ashleyr for your comments, good advice and observations!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is very good advice. Living in Southern California, I'm used to ignoring people or being ignored. Often times I'm in the same space as someone, like an elevator and go the whole time without uttering one word to them. Sometimes I feel guilty for not saying something to someone close by, I leave off asking myself, "Why couldn't I just say hello?" Unfortunately because of the world we live in perhaps we feel we are just too busy to say anything to anyone. Or perhaps we take ourselves too seriously. Whatever the case may be we all need to stop and do a self-evaluation and see if we can actually acknowledge a person crossing the street opposite of you with a smile and a nod. Who knows maybe we'll start building up the courage to actually utter that five letter word . . . Hello! Great HUB fastfreta I always enjoy them, keep up the good work!

    • suziecat7 profile image


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I tend to be a friendly person but find many folks don't know how to react. Good Hub.

    • shirleybill profile image


      10 years ago from Texas

      I understand now. The thing is...other people are in culture shock when they read it. They don't know how to comprehend what your message is. I understand the meaning behind your message, but there are others who will have no way of relating to this article. I think its a great piece that you have written, and i think more people should definitely read it,..and perhaps follow up with what you are relaying here.


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