Photo courtesy of Garance Doré
Hello is the most important word of your day.
Do you know how I can tell if we’re going to have a good day at the studio? How well things are going with the team? It’s in the way we all say hello to each other in the morning.
Saying hello takes less than a second. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, yet so many people completely miss the opportunity. It’s too bad, because with a beautiful hello you can change the atmosphere in a room – it acknowledges the people around you; it makes them feel present and important (they are).
French as I am, I go totally Italian on this one.
I love a clear, genuine, warm hello.
You have one shot at hello with each person you see during your day. Don’t fuck it up! Use your hello for good. For a lesson in what not to do, here are three examples of ways to f*** up your hello:
THE HALFWAY HELLO
This one is subtle, but subtlety is of the essence in interpersonal relationships.
The halfway hello. Aaaaah, you were almost there; why did you let it get away?
It’s entering a room and throwing your hello in the air like you just don’t care, without looking at people.
It’s saying hello to someone while at the same time looking over their shoulder to see if there is someone else more important in the room, or looking to the side to see what’s on TV, or looking down to see their shoes (only allowed if followed by “Oh my God, sorry, I got distracted. I love your shoes so much!”).
It’s saying hello with a strange expression, leaving the recipient of your hello worried for the rest of the day. (Was she sick? Was she mad at me? Is she having an affair with my husband? Did she just get Botox?)
THE SLACKER HELLO
I once hired a young woman who, every morning, would show up at the office with a giant venti double-shot iced caramel macchiato in her hands and an expression that meant either:
1. She’d had very bad sex last night – not a good look.
2. This was the very very very last venti double-shot iced caramel macchiato she would ever hug against her chest, because Starbucks was banning her from the store forever.
3. Her puppy had just died. Or something equally bad.
Her hello was an exhausted whisper, accompanied by eyes rolled up to the sky. I’m sure she wanted this to come across as something like “I am so important, yet my life is so filled with drama. What wonder will I accomplish today?” But it came off more as “I’m so bored already and it’s only nine o’clock. What unimportant task will I have to slack off through today?”
These entrances gave everyone in the office micro-anxiety attacks for a while, then we all had to start laughing about it (and, I’m sorry to report, imitating her behind her back), and then one day we decided it was time to part ways. Pheeeew.
THE ASSHOLE HELLO
In fashion, the beautiful hello is an art that most powerful people have mastered. It’s often at the lower levels – though still high enough to inflate a weak ego – that the disease strikes.
But positions change very fast in fashion. People remember. The intern remembers. You can fuck up your hello once (it happens, even to the best), but don’t do it twice.
I’m sure it’s the same at your school or in your business. That’s the way it works, so here are the basics:
If you’ve met someone and have been properly introduced, you should say hello the next time you see them. The simplest of hellos will do. Pretending not to see them either means that you’re blind and not wearing glasses (meaning you’re old and vain) or that you’re simply an asshole.
If you’re sitting next to someone at a dinner, you should say hello and introduce yourself. You should also try to exchange a few words.
You could also not introduce yourself and turn your back to talk to the person on your other side for the whole dinner. But that would mean you’re an asshole.
If, say, you’re speaking to Beyoncé and your doorman passes by (I know, but weird situations do happen), say hello to your doorman – nothing fancy, just a nice nod. He will understand that you are presently talking with a very important person.
There’s nothing worse than changing the way you address someone depending on the situation you’re in. Hello is a set currency between two people.
Even if you really wish you’d never been introduced to someone, unless they’ve hurt you very badly and it’s war, say hello. That’s the way society works; we’re not animals. Anything less would be rude.
Remember, hello is such a wonderful opportunity! Use all these free hellos to send good vibes out into the world, to build your persona, and as an opportunity to smile more.
We all look better when we’re smiling anyway.
Edited extract from Love Style Life by Garance Doré, published by Simon & Schuster Australia, $39.99