It was visiting day at my oldest son’s sports camp when I saw a couple standing off to the side looking somewhat displaced from the rest of the crowd of parents. All of the parents were wearing shorts and t-shirts—casual weekend clothing. However, this couple was dressed in business formal attire. Always keen on making others feel welcome and an avid extrovert, I walked up to the couple, introduced myself, and struck up a conversation. I found out that they had just moved to the United States from Japan only three days prior. We had a warm conversation about our children, jet lag, and their initial impressions of North America. By the end of the day, when we were saying goodbye in the parking lot, the man presented me with his business card and I gave him mine in return.
When the man, whose name was Ki-san, examined my business card, his face changed. “I see that you are the president of a marketing company,” he said contemplatively. It turned out that Ki-san had been brought to the United States to revise all of his company’s marketing and communications materials for the North American market. “This is a very, very big job,” he explained as he gave me a general rundown of his needs. “Perhaps your company can help us?”
It turned out Ki-san’s company was Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, known as NTT, the largest telecommunications company in the world, frequently featured in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. One week later, Ki-san hired my team at Boxtree Communications and, five weeks later, we were in Vegas launching the new million-dollar branding campaign for the North American market.
As a young girl, my parents taught me to be kind to everyone and this story is a wonderful example of how being nice simply for the sake of being nice had a wonderful outcome. Think about people you encounter throughout your busy day who perhaps would benefit from being seen, warmly greeted, and respected. You never know what someone is going through and these warm simple gestures could make all the difference in changing someone’s day.
Eye contact lets a person know that you see them and it creates a powerful human connection that goes back to our most basic needs as infants when we were learning how to trust. Human beings are genetically built to interact in kind and mutually beneficial ways. Mirror neurons connect us to other people through warm smiles or friendly gestures which the recipient can then reflect—or mirror— back to us, building social support. I’ve witnessed this countless times. Since 2000, I’ve been privileged to meet thousands of children, families, and health care professionals in 196 hospitals around the world. These experiences taught me the validity and power of Mother Theresa’s adage that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted.
I’m sending you strength and love,