I have short hair and because of the weather where I live, often wear a small beanie. When your neck and your ears are naked, your head gets cold! Well, I was at REI the other day, wearing my beanie and a Lacuna Loft hoodie. A guy walked by with his small child in tow. He looked at me and very kindly said, “that’s a really cool hat.” I thanked him, feeling slightly confused but flattered, and he walked away.
As I thought about our interaction, it suddenly hit me. This guy thought I was a cancer patient. I had a hoodie that literally says, “young adult cancer resources.” I was wearing a beanie with almost no hair poking out from under it. I have circles under my eyes and often look tired without any makeup (thanks, chemo!).
And the more I thought about it, the sweeter the interaction felt in my heart. This man had no idea who I was but saw an opportunity to say something nice, and did so. When he might have otherwise not known what to say and ignored the signs that I might be going through a crisis, he said something.
The moral is this: when you don’t know what to say, say something anyway. Say you like their hat. Say the weather is great (or not great) today. You don’t need to ask a personal question or even try and connect with what you’re assuming they are going through.
Nice hat. Great t-shirt. Awesome menu choice.
Engage over the smallest thing. It’s easy and it will make all the difference.