Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The art of social conversation

I had the most pleasant exchange today in the library.  Two charming young kindergarteners, the class librarians for the day, came in to return books before their regular visit.  I happened to be standing at the circulation desk scanning books when they arrived, and greeted them with a hearty "Hello there, young gents!"  They immediately replied in kind, and then added a heartfelt "Welcome back, Mrs. Margocs!  How was your learning trip last week?"  We had a brief, but lovely, conversation about my conference, and then they began talking with each other about their classmates' choices of books as they dropped them in the return slot, remarking on which ones they had read and how they knew their classmates' book preferences.  I was blown away by their civility, listening to the give and take of their conversation, and relayed this to their teacher when she arrived with the rest of the class.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to me.  I am a greeter by nature; I feel it is important to acknowledge someone's presence with a hello, hey there, good morning.  This is especially true in the library setting, where I want everyone who enters to feel welcome.  But many students I've come in contact with over the past few years not only will not initiate a greeting or conversation--they won't even reply to a hello.  I've even encountered adults who will pass me in the hall, or enter the library, without a greeting or nod.  Whether it's social ineptitude, social exclusion, introversion, or full attention to another matter, I'm not sure.

I am sure that the pleasantries exchanged today at my circulation desk were warm and heart-filling for all involved.  I hope those two young gentlemen continue their habits of friendly communication, and influence others to do the same. 

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