I have been doing some research to prepare for a training session I will be doing and am re-reading a profound book by Peter Senge, "The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook." Senge is an iconic management/leadership guru and his 1990 book, "The Fifth Discipline," was (and continues to be) a "must-read" book in business circles. In it he describes "learning organizations" and the Fieldbook, which came out shortly thereafter, offers exercises and strategies toward this end.
The book starts with an observation of a South African greeting used by the Natal tribes that caught my eye; and since I have written about the importance of greetings in building social capital, I thought it deserves a comment in this blog.
When tribal members meet they say: "Sawu Bona," which literally means, "I see you." The tribal response then is, "Sikhona," which means, "I am here." In this culture the order of exchange is critical since until you see me, I do not exist.
I love this simple notion. We see and greet many people in the course of our days, but often don't think about the critical aspects of using our greetings to signal each others importance. It is helpful to remember that our greetings initiate the first steps in building social capital. How we greet people matters.
So the next time you connect with someone, take a moment to really see them. This intention might help grow or strengthen the relationship.