Picture this; You walk into a room and realize you don’t know anyone. You look around for a familiar face and start to get a bit nervous. You are in a new environment, dealing with a new situation and you’re all alone. You take a deep breath to steady yourself and continue to look around, perhaps you start to weigh your options. Can you leave, hide in a corner, call a friend to come be with you? Your pulse quickens, you start to feel flushed, you start to sweat and shuffle where you stand. You see someone walking your way. You look around to see what you’re standing near, maybe the person coming towards you is going to get water, going to someone they know or heading out the door. You realize they are not heading towards anything else but you. Now you’re getting really nervous. Who are they? Do they know you? Did you forget meeting them before? They get closer. You start to look for a way out, maybe you can go out the door, get a drink or find a friend. Oh wait, you’re all alone and now that person is standing right in front of you. You nervously look at them. They smile and say hello. They tell you their name and start a conversation. Before you know it you are not as nervous. You no longer have your fingers poised on your phone, your pulse has slowed and your face is its normal color. Perhaps your face is even a bit brighter from the smile you’re wearing due to the great conversation you’re having. Your new friend takes you over to others and by the end you have had many conversations with many interesting people.

We’ve all been there, whether it’s going to an event, party or starting a new job. No matter where we are in life we all want to feel included and accepted. The good news is we all have the ability to make others feel included and accepted. Being the newest kid on the block at PILR, I felt this way just a few short days ago. Lucky for me, my amazing coworkers didn’t miss a chance to include me and get to know me. Their kind words of encouragement and excitement helped ease my transition. All it takes is just a smile and a few kind words to ease someone’s anxiety. The bonus is that if you’re nervous or anxious, talking with someone to help include them will also help you. We have the power to calm others and ourselves by practicing kindness.

Next time you’re in a situation like the example, I challenge you to be the smiling face needed. If you don’t know what to say, start with a smile and say “Hi, my name is ____. What’s yours?”. You will be amazed at the difference it makes, not only for them but for you!