In a world filled with every techno gadget imaginable, acknowledging a family member or friend is speaking to you, making eye contact and small talk with your date at the dinner table, even simply saying hello to someone you're walking past on the street, or thank you to someone after they've helped you, seems to have become a thing of the past as nearly everyone stares into their mobile devices every single day, oblivious to their surroundings. According to Statista, more than five hours per day of a person's life in the United States is spent on their mobile device, and that's just personal hours.
And while they say technology has advanced the way one communicates, it's clearly hindered people from practicing the long-lost art of speaking face-to-face and actively listening. Given that an alarming amount of Americans use their mobile devices non-stop throughout the day and evening, as reported by Current Affairs, it's evident that technology has created a barrier when it comes to interacting with fellow humans, and has diminished our ability to express ourselves and communicate properly with one another. It only takes three simple gestures to have the ability to put a smile on someone's face and set the tone of a conversation.
In Europe, greeting someone in their language face to face — not looking at your mobile device — shows a sign of respect, and it's most certainly expected. In the country of France, not making eye contact and not saying bonjour (hello), to the person in front of you as you enter their establishment is not only considered disrespectful, but it's also extremely impolite, as reported by the Huffington Post, and can be seen as an insult toward them and their country.
By simply smiling and expressing that first hello in French while looking at them, you'll not only gain immediate respect from them because you've greeted them in their language but most importantly, it acknowledges that you see them personally. And, as we are all humans around the globe, the simple act of kindness in expressing hello, and even goodbye and thank you to someone, speaks volumes about one's character, especially when you're a foreigner in another country.
So, the next time you're in France, whether you head into an épicerie (grocery store), fill up your rental car at the gas station or stop for lunch near the Champs-Élysées, smile and make sure to say bonjour to the person or persons inside while looking at them. You'll receive a warm smile and hello back, setting the tone for your and their day or evening ahead. After all, we all need human kindness in our lives, and actively communicating with someone is the first step.
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