The Hello Heard ‘Round the World



Greet ten strangers in person with a “Hello” in one day? In this environ when the economy could use a Prozac and the neighbor next door could be a serial killer or a reality TV star? How can the brainiac grads of Harvard and Arizona State University who promote World Hello Day on November 21st really think a simple verbal gesture is a “global expression of peace?”

These optimistic guys, along with 31 Nobel Peace Prize winners, have realized that personal communication is an important factor in preserving peace, and that with World Hello Day anyone can contribute. What do we think?

Let’s start with, “Hello.”

In its present form – leaping over historic implications of origin in archaic English, Old High German, and of course, Shakespeare – the “hello” salutation gained popularity with the telephone. (Remember that antiquated piece of technology that was rooted in one place by a cord to a booth or a wall?) And yet its inorganic progenies are obstacles in the “Hello” objective’s required predecessor: eye contact.

Engaging a Twittering stranger in a mutual gaze is a skill. Too intense may be contrived as aggressive; too lingering may be interpreted as invasive or even culturally inappropriate. But, because eye contact is “… the most powerful mode of establishing a communicative link between humans (PNAS, 2002),” it is a crucial part of the “Hello” peace process. What then is the best course of strategy?

Shift to “Mutual Ground.”

Where do liberals and conservatives, citizens and foreigners, shepherds and shitsus find commonality? The coffee shop. Whether lured there by leash, stroller, Ethiopian Sidamo or Wi-Fi, society would be hard pressed to think of something as ubiquitous as coffee. Opportunities for peaceful interactions in cafés are bountiful: “Hello (pause for reply), would you like this seat?” “Hello…is that a blueberry scone?” “Hello…where’s the bathroom?” Even the most absorbed patron, the writer, tapping away on their laptop can hardly resist looking up when they hear the words, “Hello – what’s your story about?


Find hello in many languages at

Nate Barksdale’s You Had Me at ‘Hello’ article on hello history at

Check out a mythical theory at endicott-studio by Googling: Heaven and Hello by Heinz Insu Fenkl

Introduce yourself to a fair trade coffee company out of Minneapolis with bicycle-powered delivery at


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3 Responses to “The Hello Heard ‘Round the World”

  1. Katharine Lehmkuhl Says:

    You didn’t “have me at hello,” but I was glad I read on. My world seems very small when put in the context of greeting 10 strangers in one day. In my small world, I seldom pass 10 strangers – but I’m taking on the challenge. I’m off to play Bingo at our local bar and I will attempt to say hello to 10 strangers. This could get scary.

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