I went to America many years ago for higher studies. Before leaving I read one or two books which offered nice suggestions for us Indians who are steeped in our own culture to make adjustments so that we can mingle with the American people without giving rise to a confusion or unpleasantness. A simple looking suggestion is to say yes or no clearly when you are offered tea or coffee We have a strange habit of shaking our head side to side to indicate yes. Now the American host will take it to be No. You won’t get the coffee or tea. Such a thing did happen to me in spite of reading the suggestion to be clear.
Another suggestion, which is a bit more serious is not to stare at people. We were used to staring at foreigners. So the suggestion is to carefully avoid such a habit so that people do not get offended. Habits die hard. So in spite of having read the advice about staring I did stare at a person once. What do you think he did?
He smiled at me!
Yes, he smiled at me. I was pleasantly surprised. Here I was staring at an unknown person and he smiled. He could have looked the other side. No he smiled. I learnt a simple but useful lesson. You don’t need any big reason to smile. You can simply smile.
I go to government hospitals to help patients as a volunteer under the aegis of HELPING HAND an NGO. I try my best to make the patients relax and smile. I even make some jokes with the hope that such jokes may relieve them of their anxiety and tension. The other day, however, a young lady approached me with a broad, pleasant smile. I wondered whether I had met this person earlier. So as she came near I asked her a silly question “Do you know me?” “No sir” Then I asked another silly question, “Then why are you smiling so sweetly at me?
“Just like that sir”
I used to teach salesmanship, service to customers etc I would often impress upon the participants the need to smile. One day one lady asked me whether it would be sensible to smile at any person even if you have not known him from Adam. I told her that there are hundred and one occasions when you can smile even though you do not know the person. As You pay the fare to the conductor in the city bus, as you ask the shopkeeper to give you a lifebuoy soap, as you ask someone the way to a particular place – each and every time you have to talk to someone you can talk with a smile Can’t you? You will find that the other person also will give a smile. Yes?