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Always “Go First”…Smile First, Say Hi First.


Why is it today when people walk down a hallway, into the grocery store, or down the street and see another person, they look away?  Instead of looking up, smiling and saying hi, most people put their heads down, look away and just keep going?  Or better yet, they bury their heads in their phone hoping to not make eye contact.  I heard that back in the day, everyone actually said hi to people and were very neighborly.  If you can remember the old shows like Andy Griffith or Leave it to Beaver…everyone was smiling and saying hello to everyone.  If someone looked sad, even a stranger would say, “why the long face?” 

I always try to be a little different, doing the opposite of the majority.  I try to always “go first.”  I smile first, say hi first, and try to make eye contact.  I don’t just bury my nose in my phone or look the other way.  When I pass someone, I purposely look for them to lift their heads and look at me, so that I can give them a very enthusiastic “Hi, how are you doing?”  

My Uncle Tommy

One person in my life I have always admired and was very good at “going first” was my Uncle Tommy.  He would easily be able to talk to anyone, any stranger, any time, any place.  Here’s an example…

My family and I were at the hospital with my grandmother, who wasn’t doing very well and in the late stages of brain cancer.  Uncle Tommy, my sister, and I were standing in the hospital hallway, kinda leaning against the wall, waiting on our turn to be able to go in and see Mom-Mom.  We were all physically and emotionally drained, due to being there a while and the weight of my grandmother’s health.

Next thing you know, this nurse is coming down the hall.  Her head is down, obviously tired from her long shift and perhaps the weight of all she has seen on her shift.  My sister didn’t say anything to her.  I was also content with letting her walk by un-acknowledged.  But Uncle Tommy wouldn’t.  Or should I say, with his outgoing nature, he couldn’t.  He says in the friendliest, uplifting voice, “Come on now.  Smile.  It can’t be that bad.”  She immediately perks up.  Eyes lift, a smile comes across her face, and she says, “Yeah, you’re right.  It’s not that bad.  You have a great day.”  She walked away smiling.  Uncle Tommy seemed happier.  We all just seemed to perk up a little bit.  

Such a small effort that affected four people in a very positive way.  I have always remembered that day and admire him for his natural need to “go first.” 

My Visit To The Chiropractor

Ever since I began repeating this mantra, I have proactively tried to “go first.”  One example from my life involves my bi-monthly visit to the chiropractor.  I make it a point to have a smile on my face and give the two ladies sitting at the desk an enthusiastic “good morning.”  I guess I had given them that smile and enthusiastic hello about five or six different times over the year.  One day when I walked in and gave them a friendly good morning, the one lady says, “are you Mr. Thompson?”  Before I could even answer, the other lady says.  “No that’s not Mr. Thompson.  He never comes in that happy”, acknowledging my positive and happy manner.

You see, I made it a point to always be positive and excited to see them.  While it is true that the one lady didn’t know my name, my purposeful approach to always smiling and going first made me memorable in an even better way. 

Final Thoughts

I always take the lead and “go first.”  I try to open the conversation and acknowledge people with enthusiasm.  That acknowledgement can make a person feel good, especially when they’re not expecting it.  Most people would just keep their heads down as if to say, “I don’t see anyone walking by.”  I try to do the opposite, stand out, be different.  I want to try to make someone’s day better, and the smile on their face will make my day better too.

So, the next time you are out, walking about.  Try it out.  Go first.  Give them a happy “Hi, how are you doing?”, with a smile on your face.  Look at them like you are happy to see them.  Don’t wait for them to go first.  By going first, looking for opportunities to bring a smile to someone’s face, you will make their day and yours a bit better.  

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