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一个月内,你向路上的每个人问好会怎么样呢?

(2008-11-16 20:24:41)
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英语教育

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教育

分类: 人文经典双语阅读

一个月内,你向路上的每个人问好会怎么样呢?

简介

从生活中的一点改变,我获得十一种经验

  你好。这是我们小时候最先学会说的话,又是成人后最后想到要说的话。为了得到什么或去到某个地方,我们总是行色匆匆,似乎不再有时间以这种最基本的方式打招呼了。真遗憾,因为说“你好”不仅仅是打招呼,也是对生命的认可。停下来,不管多么短暂,都是对他人价值的承认(作为回报,也让自己的价值得到肯定)。如果熟练地掌握了这句话,我们的世界会发生什么变化——我们又能发生什么变化?为了找到答案,我用了一个月时间向我遇到的每个人问好。向街上的陌生人问好,向网络空间的人问好,甚至每天早上对着镜子里的自己问好。以下就是我所了解到的事实:

1.            没你想像的那么简单。岁月为我们蒙上了一层外壳,犹如冷冻甜食上的薄膜。尽管我们内心依然温柔,但是别人却看不到。举例来说,看上去,49岁秃了头的我,就没有还是卷毛小伙子时看起来友好。不信任不幸地成为我们的流行语,举手打招呼越来越难做到,因为那意味着向别人发出邀请。“年龄越大,我们越变得具有任务导向性。”俄克拉荷马州立大学特殊教育助教,哲学博士R·艾伦·奥德解释说:“只有当我们需要什么时,才有跟别人说话的愿望,这是很难改变的习惯。”

2.            如今,友善的表达如此少见,正在慢慢消失。我发现,因为人们已经不适应别人的问候,要想达到我的目的就要暗暗地抓住他们的注意力。例如,写邮件时,我以“你好”开始,这样更可能得到回信。当我向出纳员或店员问好时,能得到更优质的服务。仿佛我让他们注意到了我的存在。

3.            能提高生产力。奥德在这个专题上做了一系列研究,其中之一是让中学老师每天早上逐个向学生问好。这个简洁活动的最终结果,是使孩子们的学习能力提高了27%。他解释道,学校从缺乏个人色彩到人性化的转变,使学生更多地参与课堂活动,从而提高了学习能力。(经理们注意:在办公室门口说“早上好”你的日子可能会好过的多。)

4.            你通常最不愿打招呼的人结果却是最友善的人。皮肤粗糙的,长得难看的,有点怪异的……换句话说,我通常会忽略或根本注意不到的人的反应却是最热烈的。毫无疑问,因为他们习惯了被忽视,任何一点关注都像是给了他们莫大的荣誉。

5.            尊重别人也会受到尊重。我每天都在同一时间,沿同一线路跑步,或是骑自行车锻炼。当我朝路过的司机挥手时,不寻常的事情发生了:几天以后,他们不仅开始挥手致意,而且给我让开了很宽的道路。这样一来,我的训练更加愉快,也更安全了。“你对他们来说是个活生生的人了”艾伦说。

6.            使社交活动更具影响力。一项研究表明,纽约城的人(38%),可能比小镇子上的人(68%)更少与陌生人握手。研究者说,一般来说,令人愉快的环境引起相互的微笑和问候的机会比令人不愉快的环境更多。我的经历与此相似。不知是因为心情不好,还是因为疑心太重,我在城里打招呼得到的回应,远远少于农村。同样地,在泽西海岸度假地的人们,比那些在商业区忙碌的人们更友好。

7.            应禁用彩色玻璃。一般来说,高速公路是最不适合打招呼的地方。当我在方向盘后挥手致意时,其他司机会无声地看着我。当然,手机能帮这个忙(两手都忙着的时候没法挥手),但是,我们无法看到对方,最大的原因不是车辆太大,就是窗户太暗。其结果是,我们和一些没有面孔的机器共同分享着道路,也就很容易忽视对方,或产生敌对心理。不过,也有一个值得注意的例外,那就是乘车人。每一个我招手致意的人似乎都真心实意地因为受到注意而感到兴奋。死亡的威胁使我们都成了亲密的伙伴。

8.            在孩子跟前要小心。年轻人本能地提防陌生人是时代的征兆,这很遗憾,但又很必要。不理我的人中,五至十五岁的孩子最多,其次是司机。尽管并不出乎意料,但还是令我难过,甚至令我恐慌。对他们来说我就是强盗。

9.            与人交流的偿试帮你集中精神。打招呼的简单行为不断地帮助我集中精神,迫使我更加明智。这是交际的禅宗。

10.        能挽救婚姻。直到开始有意地问好,我才意识到二十四年来,问候妻子和其他家人的次数是多么少。平常的礼貌用语却并不那么平常。

11.        这是一种世界性健康保险形式。说“你好”的时候,是不可能不面带微笑的,而且能一个传给另一个,正如敲击膝盖引起的条件反射。微笑在临床上的表现能降低血压,提高免疫力,甚至还能释放出天然止痛药(内啡肽),这每样都能减轻压力、增加快乐和促进健康。很显然,接受微笑的人也会获得同样的影响。加拿大研究人员发现,通讯公司员工在工作之前,进行五分钟“寻找微笑游戏”,再三从一堆照片中选出微笑的面容,换班后,他们的压力荷尔蒙质醇减少了17%。

  如此说来,也许仅仅打个招呼就能把我们的世界变成更加美好的世界。这样做了一个月以后,我感到轻松多了,联系也多了,而且对于健康有了更理智的看法。一旦打破了自己原来粗鲁的举止,养成这个好习惯,甚至把它变成了一个游戏:我还能让脾气再发作吗?

  如果你有兴趣在家试着这么做,没必要向遇到的每个人问候。那样可能会吓着别人,甚至会令人疲惫不堪。那就随意选个数字——比如,三个——把它当作每天打招呼的陌生人目标。第二年,那就会是1095次问候。从那里开始。别忘了想到还有一个最重要的陌生人:每天早上对着镜子和自己打招呼,你就会知道最需要问候的人是谁了。

What If You Said Hello to Everyone In Your Path for a Month?

Hello. It's one of the first words we learn as babies, yet it's one of the last ones we think to use as adults. In our never-ending rush to get something or somewhere, it seems we don't have time anymore for this most basic of gestures. And that's unfortunate, because saying hello is more than just saying hello. It is an acknowledgment of existence. It is a pause, however brief, to affirm another's worth (and have yours affirmed in return). How might the world change-how might we change—if we mastered this word? To find out, I spent one month saying hello to every person I met. That meant strangers on the street, people in cyberspace, and even myself in the mirror every morning. Here's what I learned:

1. It's not as easy as you think. Age gives us a crust, like the film on refrigerated pudding. Even though we may still be soft deep down, that's not what others see. I, for one, look a lot less friendly as a bald 49-year-old than I did as a curly-haired teen. Mistrust becomes our unfortunate catchword, and it's tougher to raise a hand in greeting because that invites people in. "The older we get, the more task-oriented we become," explains R. Allan Allday, PhD, an assistant professor of special education at Oklahoma State University. "Our tendency is to speak to people only when we need something, and that's a difficult habit to break."
2. Friendliness is so rare nowadays, it's disarming. Because people aren't accustomed to being greeted, I found it a sneaky way to grab their attention and get what I wanted. For instance, when I began an e-mail with "Hi," I was more likely to get a reply. And when I said hello to cashiers and clerks, I got better service. It's as if I woke them up to my presence.

3. It can boost productivity. In one of the few studies ever done on this subject, Allday had middle school teachers greet their students individually each morning. This brief interaction ultimately raised the kids' productivity by 27 percent. School went from impersonal to personal, he explains, and that resulted in more class participation and better grades. (Managers, take note: Perhaps your time would be better spent at the office door saying "Good morning.")

4. People you wouldn't normally acknowledge turn out to be the friendliest. The gnarly, the dirty, the semi-strange … in other words, the people I'd normally avoid or not even notice were the ones who reacted the most warmly. No doubt it's because they're so accustomed to being ignored that any acknowledgment is akin to being feted at the Rotary.

5. Respect begets respect. I normally run or bicycle the same route at the same time each day. When I started waving to the drivers who passed, an unusual thing happened: After a few days, they not only started waving back, but they also gave me a wider berth. So my workouts became more pleasant and safer. "You became a person to them," says Allday.

6. Setting influences sociability. One study found that people in New York City were less likely (38 percent) to shake hands with a stranger than those in small towns (68 percent). And, researchers say, pleasant environments generally evoke more reciprocal smiles and hellos than unpleasant ones. My experience was similar. Whether due to distraction or suspicion, my urban hellos were answered far less often than my rural ones. Likewise, people in vacation spots, like the Jersey Shore, were far friendlier than those hustling to work downtown.

7. Tinted windows should be banned. In general, highways are the worst place for hellos. When I waved from behind the wheel, other drivers would give me a dumb stare. Cell phones certainly contribute to this (you can't wave when both hands are occupied), but a bigger factor is our inability to see each other. Either the vehicles are too big or the windows are too dark. As a result, we share the road with faceless machines that are much easier to ignore or be aggressive toward. There is one noteworthy exception, however, and that is motorcyclists. Every one I waved to seemed genuinely thrilled to be noticed. The threat of death makes bosom buddies of us all.

8. You need to be careful around kids. It's an unfortunate, but necessary, sign of our times that youngsters are instinctively wary of strangers. Next to motorists, 5- to 15-year-olds ignored me the most. Although that wasn't surprising, it did sadden and even scare me. To them I was a predator.

9. Reaching out focuses you. The simple act of saying hello continually pulled me back from wherever my mind had wandered and forced me to be more aware. It's social Zen.

10. It can save your marriage. I never realized how infrequently I greeted my wife of 24 years, or the rest of my family, until I started doing so deliberately. Common courtesy isn't so common.

11. It's a form of universal health insurance. It's impossible to say hello without smiling. One leads to the other just as a tap causes a knee jerk. And smiling has been clinically shown to lower blood pressure, boost immunity, and even release natural painkillers (endorphins), each of which lowers stress, boosts happiness, and improves health. Apparently, a smile creates a similar effect in the recipient. Canadian researchers found that call-center employees who played a five-minute "smile hunting" game before work, in which they repeatedly picked the smiling face from a photo assortment, had 17 percent less of the stress hormone cortisol after their shift.

So maybe we can make the world a better place by just saying hello. After a month of doing it, I feel lighter and more connected and I have a better sense of well-being. Once I broke through my initial crustiness and got into the habit, it even became a game: Can I make this grump open up?

If you're inspired to try this at home, there's no need to greet everyone you meet. That can be intimidating and even exhausting. Instead, pick an arbitrary number—say, three—and make it your goal to say hello to that many strangers daily. That will result in 1,095 more hellos over the next year. Build from there. And don't forget to acknowledge the most important stranger of all: Saying hello to yourself each morning in the mirror recognizes the one person who needs it most.

 

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