Two months ago I posted a blog on the subject of thanking people – all manner of people – for the services they perform and the help they provide to ease my path through daily life. This is a brief reflection on how such folk have reacted to the practice, and what I’ve learned from it.
What varieties of people have I thanked? Among the women and men there have been restaurant servers, grocery store checkout persons, a plumber, a drywall repairer, an auto mechanic, vineyard tasting staff, a librarian, an engraver and a UPS counter person. Whew!
And how have these fleeting encounters played out?
For the most part I’d say pretty well. With rare exceptions, those to whom I’ve extended a hand have been pleasantly surprised. True, the tendency to combine an “I-can’t-quite-believe-this-is-happening” expression with a tentative shake wasn’t uncommon but the gesture was never dodged, let alone refused outright. (Interestingly, no one asked why I wanted to shake their hand.)
What do I think about this experiment in positive social interaction? Admittedly, I did not make it a point of shaking hands with every person I met. Sometimes I forgot, or was in too much of a hurry. My backstop for these omissions was the desire to thank people thoughtfully, not by rote. In that dimension I believe I’ve done a pretty good job over all.
Does shaking hands with strangers that might otherwise be invisible to me make me feel better about myself? Perhaps, although the goal is for those souls to feel good about being noticed as individuals, not as mere cogs in the machinery of commerce.
Have any of you taken up this practice? If so I would like to hear from you. If not, I challenge you to give it a try!