Speak For Love | Communicate For Confidence | Inspire For Growth

Forget about grammar, forget about rules. Take them out of the equation of a perfectly written sentence, you are instantly sociable, polite and even humble. Bosses who call their employees by their surname with a salutation, are appalled. “Am I in trouble?” Bosses who call their employees by their names are well liked. “Good morning, Mrs. Jane. How are you today?” or “Good morning, Nicole. How is it going?” The latter makes Nicole feel she’s been given greater attention and the feeling you get from seeing two people addressing each other informally is indeed a comforting one.

The story is a bit different many parts of Asia. When we were expats, my maid called me Mdm, the electrician called me Mdm, the driver called me Mdm, and the cashier at the grocery stores did that too. But no sir, I do not like to be called Mdm, makes me feel old. Besides, we all make a living, not born with a silver spoon in the mouth.” Yet, in a society where people have very little to no education (in English I must say), addressing foreigners as Mdm or Sir is probably the best way they can do to make themselves feel at ease with expats as people, not foreigners.

How about people in modern societies? In a nutshell, nobody seems to care who you are or you come from. Even if I have introduced myself, “Hello. Pleased to meet you. My name is Hanifa.” The next time I meet them again, you know they have forgotten your name, “Hi. How are you?”

How about my neighbours? “Hey. Good morning. Going to send daughter to school? Very hot today ya. Bring umbrella or not?” Most days, they just smile and walk on by. People in the city are always busy: go to work, catch the next train or waiting anxiously at the bus stop to get to some other place, FAST. Although greetings are simple to initiate, they seem to add burden to people’s social affairs in modern societies.

Enough of the city. What about the people of Asia in general? There are common phrases you can use as greetings with Asian families and friends to win them over and brighten your day. Let’s name some. “Have you eaten.” “How are you? Where are you going?” “Have you had your shower?” “The weather ah, very hot today.” Let me reveal to you this one bit of secret. It does not matter what time of day it is, the ONE magic phrase you must learn should you travel to Asia is “Have you eaten?” Say it anyway you like, in broken English, Spanglish or dialects. If you use this sentence or add a word synonymous to food and eating, you are in the network.

Greeting, in fact, connects cultures together. It is so easy to learn. It took me less than a week to learn greetings in Spanish. I began by initiating the greetings, on twitter. There is no need to anticipate any response. Just tweet the greetings. You will surely get response eventually. On my insane days, I would tweet my greetings in four languages. If nobody responds today, that is ok. Perhaps tomorrow, or maybe the next day somebody will. Keep practising in silence at the comfort of your own home: greet, tweet and don’t forget to say goodbye when you are leaving. Does anyone care? Yes, one or two will respond to you. Others will notice you are leaving and won’t expect anymore from you that day.

If you who follow others do not inform others who follow you, your tweets will go unnoticed. – signed, yours truly.

All our lives possess a continuance of value moulded by our recgonised and secure relationships with one another. In any punctuation of search for the remaining material goals, the warm relations and experiences with people are indeed the ones that give us delight, pleasure and contentment. Whoever we are,  the individual person is reserved in his own employ of tasks and at the end, he searches and keep searching for those pleasurable participation in human experience in the community he found. Am I being too philosophical?

Say your greetings in your cultural terms, and adapt your greeting style to the cultural style of your new friends. If you have been taught to say, “Apa kabar?” Extend your warmth, by adding, “Apa kabar. Good? How are you?” Bring the foreign cultures together by using their lingo and then adding a bit of yours. “Hi. Today I had Jamu. I feel sparky.” Guess the response I got? “What is Jamu?” And so the social journey continues, all because of an informal greeting word, Hi.

Drop the rules, forget about the grammar. Go beyond the habit of formal greetings; break the rules. Win a friend, just greet in your own personal style.