"Hello." Have you ever thought about how you say that all-important word that starts every single chat?
Don't just mumble "hi." Put some energy behind it, like you would if you were meeting a hot date! Look people dead in the eye. Smile to feel more energized and confident. Let all those folks know that you have something invaluable to offer: a pulse.
Once you get past "hello," to the "How are you?" portion of the ritual, the answer should be delivered with equal energy and enthusiasm. I call this the Have A Pulse Hello Rule. My friend Marcelle's usual response to "How are you?" is either "Perfect!" or "No Complaints!" Mine is typically "Fantastic!" or "Fabulous!"
Giving an energetic hello might seem insignificant. It's not. Saying something enough times will make it come true. Hogwash, you say? No, darling, brainwash. If you constantly remind people that you are fantastic, that will be the word they consciously or unconsciously associate with you. You are what you say you are. The more you say it, the more you become it.
Beyond that, here are other reasons to think about spiffing up your greetings:
It is critical to adjusting your attitude. If you do it consistently, you will develop the habit of responding positively and enthusiastically -- it's really hard to say fabulous without putting some energy behind it. Nobody wants to hang out and chat with a sourpuss. Improve the mood, dude.
You don't know who is standing behind you in Starbucks. Perhaps it's the potential husband. Perhaps it's a job opportunity. If you do this long enough in your office and out in the world at places you visit regularly, years after you've left, people will remember you, long after they've forgotten those who could never bother to flash a smile and make an imprint.
It saves time. When you give someone an upbeat hello, it's really hard for him to then turn around and start bitching about how miserable his life is, in which case it would be near impossible to extract yourself from the exchange without looking like an insensitive clod. In the process of lifting yourself up, you lift your listener up as well.
Following the Have A Pulse Hello Rule creates intrigue and interest. When you are cheerful, people will say, or at least think: "What are you so happy about?" -- giving you an invitation to be positive about the big deal you just closed, the successful completion of an important project, or whatever. If you keep it brief, it's bragging without seeming to brag. Viola, instant, productive self-promotion without coming off like a blowhard.
All I know, it's key to engage and to do that easily is starting with the word hello! Being friendly is a lot easier than being a biatch.