In both my nursing home communication group yesterday and my writing group this morning the conversation took in acknowledging the existence of others. It seems that many people are so busy living their own lives that they no longer take the time to even notice anyone else. It is not only true in nursing home situations but life in general. How many times do you go to the store so intent on what you have to purchase that you don't even see the other customers?
It isn't necessary to have a 10 minute conversation, but would it hurt to smile and say hello?
Years ago while working at our local nursing home I had a brief experience that to this day is embedded in my mind. I walked right past a lady in a wheelchair on the way to the copy room. Something caused me to pause with my hand on the door handle. I turned around and went back to the lady, smiled and said good morning. The lady returned a huge smile. Today as I walk through the hallways of the same nursing home as a volunteer I never pass a person without acknowledging them.
There are people I know who go out of their way to avoid acknowledging my existence. I used to take it as an intentional insult. Now I just feel sorry for them because I know they have a problem they can't deal with. In order for them to intentionally ignore me they have to first acknowledge my presence. It is sort of like a backhanded compliment, but still I have been acknowledged!
I had a funny experience after my grandson's basketball game last weekend that is still making me smile. As I was leaving the gym I briefly paused within a foot or so of someone who has chosen not to speak to me for a couple of years. Observing her I could see how uncomfortable she was as she struggled to look down at her shoes. How much easier it would have been for her to just say hello and let me pass.
Life sometimes teaches us in odd ways. Probably because I have been ignored in the past by experts I now make a conscious effort not to do it to others. I believe for those who already have a self-esteem issue it is the worst possible hurt they could endure.