Occasionally when getting on a bus, I’m greeted by the driver with a bright smile and a friendly “Welcome!” Even if I wasn’t in a good mood, meeting someone like that already begins to make me feel better. Even the general atmosphere inside the bus brightens up! More importantly, because of that one bus driver, my impression of that whole bus route improves. Conversely, when passengers get off at their stop and politely bid the driver farewell with a “Thank you!” and “Keep up the good work!”, it doesn’t look good to the students getting off. They look like students who’ve been straightened out by a tough education at home and at school. Without knowing what kind of person that student is, they’ve made up their minds about them.
In both cases, a simple greeting has a great impact. Whether this happens in reality remains to be seen, but let’s try to imagine this and take it a step further. It would be good for the members of our Kangnam University family reading this to also imagine.
If all of us at Kangnam University, including our students, acted crazy for just one month when taking the bus or any other form of public transportation by saying, “How are you?” when they got on or “Keep up the good work!” when getting off, not even one of the other passengers would fail to do this as well. Even if it looks like a conscious campaign, it’s worth seeing if it catches on. If you think about it, what’s so difficult? If you swallow your pride and make an effort, there’s nothing you can’t do. I may be willing to join in as well.
But can you imagine the benefits? The buses that pass by our university also pass by Yongin University, Myongji University, Kyung Hee University, and others on their way to Seoul. If all the students who get on and off in front of Kangnam University offer greetings in this way, for a brief moment it will make a difference in the students from other universities. Does only the bus driver hear the greeting? The other passengers on the bus hear it too. What would they think? They would all remark, “Boy, Kangnam University students are really friendly!” That impression would stick with them. Somewhere else when talking to someone and Kangnam University comes up, they’ll remember that experience and pass on the good impression they got of Kangnam University. I don’t know if I’ve taken this too far. But if you think about the butterfly effect, in which a small action can have widespread benefits, you might think since there’s nothing to lose, giving it a try wouldn’t be so bad.
Right now our university is trying hard to restore its image, its brand, in every way it can. This is, however, difficult to accomplish by the effort of just a few people. But if every student, every teacher is in Kangnam University; Kangnam University is in every one of us. Each of us represent Kangnam University. Even after they finish, every member will be like an ambassador for their school making others want to join. But it’s important to not simply “look good” but actually “be better”. Each individual member will raise the value of the brand.
“Greeting” (人事) is literally the most basic “thing” (事) “people” (人) do in social life. Therefore, an estimation of your “sociability as bright and right”, the school’s brand image aside, is something that will enhance your own personal brand.
But why for just one month? According to scholars who study human behavior, it takes at least three weeks to form new habits. After three weeks of conscious and repeated effort, the habits become a part of you without you even realizing it. So, for just a month, let’s practice proper greeting habits. Later, they will come out automatically. Habits are stronger than will, and good habits create a good life. I’m looking forward to the ring of “How are you?” and “Keep up the good work!” echoing from the buses in front of our school and around the world.
Translated by Charles Ian Chun