You Had Me at Hello

How to add more love to your life with one simple greeting.

My 20-year-old son often sits at the kitchen table, studying French. I work out in the backyard, in a cozy studio which was built just for me. Often, throughout the day, I walk into the house through a back door which leads into the kitchen. I go to get more water, use the restroom or grab a snack.

Here’s what happens when I open that back door: my son gleefully says, “Welcome back to the house, mom!” Sometimes he uses funny voices. Sometimes he says it with bigger energy. Sometimes he adds a little goofy wave or big arm gestures. Once this week, while the Olympics were on, he boomed, “We now welcome Sherry Richert Belul to the field. This is gonna be a great show, folks!”

You might think this is a small thing. But it isn’t!

This little jokey thing from my son connects me to him. It makes me feel seen and loved. It is a shared laugh. It truly does make me feel welcome.

Isn’t that what we all want in our lives? We want to know that when we walk into a room, we are a joy to someone.

I’ll share another story, this one about a stranger.

Last week, when my beau and I were visiting a small town in Pennsylvania while on vacation, we drove by a little log-cabin like building. At the top of it was a sign that read “1864 No. 8 School.” It caught our eye and we quickly pulled into the driveway to check it out.

I thought maybe it was a little museum, open for a tour. Or, maybe it had been converted into a boutique. So, I strode up to the door. I saw that there was an inside open door and a screen door. I leaned into the screen and peered in.

It was an odd scene for a store or museum. I saw three men sitting at what looked like a kitchen table. One of them waved at me. “Hello!” He was so warm and friendly.

I asked, “Is this a museum?” The man laughed and said, “Nope! This is an Airbnb. And it is amazing.”

“Oh, no! I am so sorry to intrude,” I said, feeling aghast at my nearly walking into someone’s private space.

My boyfriend, Ian, had now walked up behind me and asked what was up. The gentleman in the little building smiled widely and said, “Hey! Hi. C’mon in if you want. This is a really cool place. Check it out!”

He had such great energy that Ian and I were drawn in like magnets!

We met the other two men, who it turns they were all brothers. They were staying at this place as a “brothers retreat!” Each one greeted Ian and me with a hearty hello and a smile.

Ian and I ended up staying there for about half an hour, chatting with them and exclaiming over the quirkiness of this little schoolhouse Airbnb. There were small desks, an alphabet chart, schoolbooks and other elementary school paraphernalia. One of the four beds was tucked under the staircase in a hideaway spot!

These three men were so much fun. They radiated good energy and joy. We all shared stories about our lives and we laughed about how Ian and I nearly walked in on their lunch.

That experience was a highlight of our vacation. As we drove away, Ian and I talked about it over and over again. “Wow, they were so much fun.” “Wasn’t that an amazing experience?” “Gee, those guys are great. Such good energy!”

Their joy and warmth impacted us so much that we ended up going back!

A few miles from that eccentric Airbnb as we were driving back to where we were staying and passed a novelty food and gift store. On a whim, we stopped there and we bought our brand new friends some vintage sodas and a family-size bag of Snyder’s old-fashioned pretzels. We wanted them to know that they had brightened our day in a big, big way.

I jumped out of the car when we got back to the schoolhouse, treats in hand. As I approached the door, I heard one of the brothers say, “They’re back!” He had such happiness in his voice. I felt so welcomed, yet again.

So, why am I sharing these two stories with you?

Because, my friend, this single, simple practice can be a way that you gift people in your life. (Even strangers!)

What if you intentionally started practicing the same kind of hearty hello that my son or these brothers greet with? How would this make people feel? How would it change your day?

you had me at hello 3

Here are some tips for a memorable “You had me at hello” greeting:

  1. When someone walks in the room, you telephone them or you hop on a video call, get present. Drop everything else that you are doing so your whole attention is focused on the person you are greeting. Don’t let anything distract you from your greeting.
  2. Consciously bring warmth to your voice. When you are greeting someone, look them in the eye if they are with you in the room or on video. If you’re on the phone with them, imagine their face and think about something you love about them. This will naturally increase the warmth.
  3. Regulate the volume and energy in your voice so that your hello feels “bigger.” Don’t shout, of course, you don’t want to sound angry! However, bring that next level of joyful noise. Make it enthusiastic!
  4. If you want to add some humor, wave your arms over your head, make a big happy-dog face or say something like, “Hello, hello my favorite husband!”
  5. If you want to pile on more good feelings, think of an authentic compliment or appreciation for this person. Express something positive to them about who they are or how you feel about them. Risk being vulnerable in order to gift them with extra good feelings about themselves.
  6. Hold their gaze if you are looking at them. Or, if you are on the phone, don’t rush past the hello. Let it linger. Let this person know you have all the time in the world for them because they are so special.

During this pandemic most of us have learned how truly essential our relationships are to us. We’ve got a renewed sense of wanting to be connected to the people we love; however, relationships require time and attention if we want to maintain them. And, if we’re willing, we can not only maintain, but deepen our relationships.

The simple practice of greeting people with enthusiasm and love is something you can do every day and is sure to make a difference — not just for others, but for YOU!

Try it and let me know in the comments how it goes, okay?!

P.S. You can also practice greeting yourself! I know that may sound a little silly, but there’s an idea that is taught by Mel Robbins, a motivational speaker, and it is called the “High Five Habit.” Throughout your day, every time you are about to leave the restroom, make sure to smile at yourself in the mirror and give yourself a high five. This is a way to offer yourself the same welcoming enthusiasm, joy and love that we’re talking about giving to others.

diverse group people celebration teamwork concept

Sherry’s mission is helping people find creative, intentional and impactful ways to celebrate life and to express love for family and friends. Visit her website or email her to say hello at Sherry’s book, “Say it Now; 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life,” is now available on Amazon. Join Sherry’s free 5-day challenge, "Olly Olly Oxen Free: Permission and Belonging," here.

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