How many people do you say “Hi” to?

July 10th, 2018

As children, our parents and caretakers taught us many basic rules for communicating with other people. “Treat people how you want to be treated.”, and “Use your manners.”, are just two of many cliches that guide our behaviors as youth. We have carried these commands in our heads for years and have used them to shape our do’s and don’ts. We’ve practiced them everyday since kindergarten.

So what  about when mom told us, “Do not talk to strangers!”? We know now that she said these words, not to make us antisocial people, but to protect us from harm. However, that lesson may too float in the depths of our subconscious.

Think about it. At Boston University, we pass hundreds of other students a day, strolling up and down Commonwealth Avenue. We walk past professors, faculty, and campus visitors.

Out of the thousand people we may see a day, how many do we stop to say hello to? How many hand waves or smiles do you give to those who pass by?

For me, the answer is about 10 people. Five hellos, three waves, one smile, and on a good day a full stop to talk. 10/1000 faces. That means I only engage with .01% of the people I see.

Calculate your percentage.

Out of then 10 people that I engage with, I usually know nine, if not all 10 of them. So I am going to step outside my comfort zone and do better.

This year Boston University will not only have new incoming faculty and freshmen, but about 300 students joining us from Wheelock College. I want every new Terrier to feel as welcome as I did my first time on campus.

To do this, I plan to engage with more “strangers”, and you should too. I challenge you to practice with me and raise your percentage. Rewire your golden rules to include engaging with people you don’t know.

After all, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet.” -William Butler Yeats

Jillian Lattimore (CGS ‘17, COM ‘19)

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