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Don't ignore the janitor
The importance of seeing, smiling and talking to people
A friend of mine works as a janitor in a prominent business area in Oslo. He once told me he felt invisible at work. Lawyers, bankers, consultants, and other people in suits, walk around ignoring him. They treat him as if he was just air. When they ask him or his colleagues for something, many are not polite. Rather, they’re often demanding in a rude way, as if they’re giving orders. He felt like they didn’t respect him and his work.
I started thinking about how I interacted with people in service roles. That be cleaning personell, receptionists, bartenders, waiters or others that work hard to make life seamless for other people. Although I’ve always tried to be polite when asking for something, I realized I wasn’t good enough at saying hi, smiling or just simply nodding, when walking by. I ignored many of them.
So the next day at our previous offices, I saw the guy that was cleaning in the common areas. I’d seen him so many times before. Almost every day. I smiled at him and said «Good morning, how are you doing?». The guy lit up and smiled back. We had a small casual chat. The rest of our time at that co-working space, we greeted each other, small-talked, and had some good laughs. It gave joy to both of our lives.
It reminds me of something my grandmother said in here 90th birthday:
It doesn’t matter what education or job you have. The most important thing is to be nice to the people around you.
The next time you see a person that you just consider a bystander in your life; see them, smile to them and say «Hi!». It might enrich both of your everyday lives - and if it doesn’t, it only costs a smile.