posted on Feb, 12 2011 @ 09:33 PM
I have always either been a stay at home mom, self employed, or worked for smaller companies. Till a few years ago, that is.
When I hired on with this company, it was all the corporate initation one would expect. We had to go through orientation, meet the people, Meet and
Greet lunches, etc. It was 2 months of this, and we got paid for it! I decided, what the heck, I will "feel the love", and I went into it with a
good attitude. I figured at worst I had nothing to lose, at best, I may actually gain something from it.
One of the things they push and push hard is *smile*! Some days, you just don't feel it. I decided to test the addage that if you smile, it may
actually change your attitude.
So, I decided to try a little experiment, and it has continued on with great results! But, I bet it isn't what you think.
I have always been oddly fascinated with how people behave in the elevator. Like it is some pervasive evil entity surrounding you on your ascent or
descent, and if you break the status quo, you are surely going to go to hell.
We have, by now, all seen how people all face the same way, look up or down, or simply stare ahead.
I particularly love the ones that get on the elevator, and look up for the light showing the floor. Except, the elevators we have? Don't have the
light up above. It shows on the little wall panel on the side. Yet, people *still* look up for the light! Even once they realize, "Oh, the light
isn't there", they keep looking, as if to somehow break that stare will mean their demise.
So, once I finished the orientation at this company, I looked around to see who practiced what was preached. I was certainly not surprised when I
realized... most of them did not. In particular, the very ones that gave the orientation, the corporate leaders.
They were actually the ones that confronted you, if you were so lucky, rushing doggedly off the elevator with their leather jackets, umbrellas, and
brief cases when the doors silently glided open, literally almost knocking you down, with an ingrained scowl on their faces, heels clacking loudly on
the over-waxed floors. In too much of a rush to even notice the little guys, the ones that wer to be looking to them for leadership. I thought, on
more than one occasion, if that was what being at the top meant, it surely wasn't for me.
One day in particular, I saw a VP getting off the elevator as I approached, his head down, brows deeply furrowed. I did what I was told, I smiled, and
announced a genuine hello.
He stopped in his tracks. He turned and looked at me, tilted his head, and a slight smile flickered across his face. He muttered a soft "hello"
back, then just as suddenly it flashed across his face, he had broken the taboo! He turned just as abruptly as he had stopped and rushed away. I felt
a little odd after that, and after thinking on it a bit, I decided I was going to pursue this whole thing.
I chose the elevator.
At first I just watched people, noting the things as I outlined above, and they rarely changed. Every rare once in a while, people would mutter a
hello, then silently stare at the floor until reaching their destination.
That was it, I decided. It was finally time to break this habit, taboo be damned!
From that day onward, every time I got into the elevator, if someone else was there I would say hello, while looking them in the eye. At first, most
people would look away and say "hi" or "hello", but rarely if ever would they make eye contact.
If I am on the elevator and it opens on another floor and someone else gets on, not only do I make eye contact when the door opens, I ask them what
floor they need, and press the button for them. I smile, make light conversation, and people seem actually *releived* to be able to speak on the
elevator! Like somehow, some old line has faded, and it was out with old in with the new!
I know it seems like a silly experiment, but it has even actually changed the people I work with, and how our customers view us. We are consistantly
voted the most friendly and outgoing of all of our competitors in corporate surveys.
Most of all, it is a really exciting feeling when you can get people interested enough in a conversation they will stall getting off the elevator to
continue the conversation, the elevators alarms buzzing their insistance, or even ride past their floor to your floor just to keep talking on extra
moment or two!
I guess all in all, it proves that smiling *is* contagious, and that you can change the mood of an atmosphere one smile at a time. Heck, even those
days I catch myself not quite feeling into it, by the time I get to my floor, I feel lighter and more often better off to face the oncoming day at
work. It is spreading, and sometimes now, others beat me to the hello.
Even walking to the elevator, we now walk in groups, and stand and chat waiting for the elevator to come. We all greet new oncomers, say goodbye to
the ones leaving before us. It is literally a corporate wide change. And yes, even the corporate leaders do it!
I just thought I would share this little experiment with you all. If any of you have the opportunity or the willingness to try it, I would love to
hear back from you. It isn't about being fake or putting in a false smile, it is about reaching out and prompting a change, not only outwards, but
from within. And it really works!
Have fun with it!