Botswana Blog #2
This summer I was lucky enough to watch a family of wild dog pups as the sun melted away over the Okavango Delta. They chased and wrestled each other in the fading light, competing for the prize of a discarded Oreo packet, and apart from an occasional growl or yip, their tussles were fairly soundless. Suddenly their parents appeared in the distance, returning from their hunt, and the puppies reacted with a cacophony of high pitched squealing which the adults took up in return. The dogs ran to each other in a frenzy of noise, tail wagging and licking. It was an amazing sight and sound to behold – what a fantastic way to be greeted, a pure show of warmth and welcome.
At the other extreme from the Wild Dogs, I recently did some work with a health organisation, where they had coined a term ‘Eye Aversion Disorder’ for a phenomenon they noticed in one of their bases. Staff working there never looked anyone in the eye as they walked along the corridors or indeed showed any signs of noticing those passing them. What must that have felt like for the patients, other staff and visitors there? Certainly not one of warmth, welcome and value.
Both instances made me think about how we greet others and how different greetings make us feel and react. Is our greeting on a Monday morning different to that on a Friday evening? Are we more concerned with what others may think of us and hold back, rather than being our genuine selves? Are we so caught up in our own heads and concerns that sometimes we forget the impact that might have on those around us? What could we learn from the exuberance of the Wild Dogs? And the impact of not looking at others we pass in the workplace?
People enjoy a warm welcome, it makes them feel valued, welcomed or just plain acknowledged. This week, notice how you greet people – those you know and those you don’t, those you like and those perhaps you’re less enamoured with. Be curious about how you are when you meet people, even those you just happen to pass along the street or corridors.
Try actively engaging with everyone you meet and see what happens. Assume that people will receive you well and be yourself, don’t hold back. Maybe don’t squeal and lick them (unless you know them really well) but do try to genuinely engage with them: Smile; look them in the eye; say hello; and see what responses you receive as a result.