Community-building one smile at a time

January 22, 2008 at 6:24 pm | Posted in Community-building | 1 Comment
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When you’re waiting with a crowd til your plane boards or sitting alongside others in the park during your lunch hour . . . do you tend to make eye contact with those around you, or do you avoid it?

There are all kinds of reasons why you might be inclined not to meet the gaze of a total stranger, including:

* inseparable bonding with your laptop, ipod, or cell phone,

* discomfort with your appearance,

* cultural inappropriateness,

* belief that if you lock eyes with someone, they might “come on” to you or they’ll think you’re hitting on them,

* shyness,

* fear that someone will actually engage you in conversation and you don’t want to take time to talk.

If I’m not careful, I can sometimes fall into this last category.

Let’s imagine, though, that you have absolutely nothing to fear or distrust in simply making eye contact with another person and smiling. Wouldn’t it be a revolutionary step toward community-building if each of us could take a few seconds to be more intentional about connecting with one another . . . with friendly eyes and a sincere smile?

It may sound corny but, perhaps, it’s just because it’s so true — sharing a smile with someone can really lift your own spirits and greatly encourage the other person as well. As Dan Allender writes in The Healing Path, your smile can often lead to conversation and discovery of life stories that have “the potential to change our lives.”

Why not give it a try this week? Deliberately make eye contact with someone you don’t know . . . and smile. Then let me know what happens.

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