The “Say Hi” Pledge

by Matt Mattson

sayhiA link to this article in Inside Higher Ed made the rounds last week, and the implications for our Social Excellence message were obvious.  Clearly “The Social Experiment” at Columbia could have been profoundly bolstered by a little Phired Up Social Excellence training.

But there were two links buried inside that article that both surprised and inspired me.  These two links directed readers to background information on two college traditions.  One at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA (The “Speaking Tradition”), and one at Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee (The “Passing Hello”). [Take a moment to read those].

Social Excellence is about momentary choices.  Daring yourself to connect with others using the Best Version of You. Choosing to engage with the people and society around you.  It is about being present and aware of the power of interpersonal connection.

Is there any simpler way to engage with the world than to just SAY HI to people as you pass them?

If you choose Social Excellence as your lifestyle.  If you want to be the best version of you today.  If you want to create a tradition in your community of engagement, interaction, connection, and relationships… start simple. Take the “Say Hi” pledge.  Raise your right hand and repeat after me.

I, [state your full name], pledge upon my honor, to say “Hi” to people as I walk past them today and every day.

I will do so with an authentic smile and a genuine wish in my heart that they might feel my positive presence in their life, if just for a fleeting moment.

I understand I am not to wink, giggle, or give a creepy stare while taking this action. I further understand that this requires an aversion of my gaze away from my cell phone or other text-messaging device.

Because I maintain this simple commitment, my community will be more connected and in some small way I will have enriched the world.

I recognize that this is just a small gesture, but that it will move me toward a full Social Excellence lifestyle.

[Since your hand is up, high-five someone to make it official.]

Note to Greeks: Since you’re members of SOCIAL organizations, what if you took a similar pledge as a whole community (or chapter)?  What if you were the people on campus who said “Hi” to people as you walked past them?  It sounds simple, yes.  But what if that was the story your campus told about you… “The Greeks here are the ones that make you smile as you pass them on campus.”  How might that help with recruitment?  How might that change the long-term behavior of your members toward your original social mission?

Note to AFA 2011 Attendees: Look for an opportunity at the Phired Up exhibit booth to make your pledge to Social Excellence.