First of all, welcome! Whatever path brought you here, I'm very glad to have the opportunity to get to know you. If you remember my name, Victor Roman, it's pretty easy to get to know more about me; just peruse any of my stats, stories, or tweets at the following addresses:
Don't feel bad if you forget my name, though. Personally, I'm terrible with names. I can remember what color a person's eyes are, what their favorite pizza topping is, and what was the last movie they saw, while also completely forgetting what to call them. I remember in high school, when one of my coachs recovered the football gear I had left on the bus, and he asked me "who's your favorite coach?" I would have gladly said his name, if the memory address in my head where that name was had not been completely overwritten recently. Instead, I gave him a big smile and said "You are, of course!" He laughed and offered up my gear, I took it and let out a deep breath.
For me, smiling has been a powerful way to communicate. I use it to engage in small connections with others throughout the day, whether they be colleagues at work or strangers along the sidewalk. It is my way to express that I am happy to see you, even if it's only for a second, and that I hope to have a greater form of connection later, such as a conversation.
Another important element of these short connection experiences is eye contact. When I smile, I deliberately make eye contact to express that I see the other person, and that the smile is specifically expressed for them. It also establishes that I am receptive to their expressions as well, whether it be a simple smile back or the beginning of a conversation.
One thing I want to admit is that smiling and making eye contact do not come naturally to me. Due to a series of unfortunate life experiences, I'm actually inclined towards avoiding eye contact and showing little emotion. When other individuals initiate a smile and make eye contact, engaging in the connection is easier. The smile and eye contact are an invitation that creates a safe space in which to connect, which enables the introversion to slip away.
When I'm the one offering the invitation to connect, it's a little riskier. What if the person ignores me or simply doesn't notice? What if the smile and eye contact are misunderstood? Sure, it might be a little awkward to say "Hello" to someone and have them walk by without even looking at you, but in my experience virtually no harm comes from offering up invitations to short forms of human connection. Having experienced such interactions so many times, it's simply become a habit.
Overall, what it comes down to is finding a way to get to a place of genuine human connection. Whether we forget each other's names, fail to respond to "connect" invites due to being preoccupied, or struggle when making eye contact, if we can get to a place of connection of any magnitude, the safe space manifests itself and the barriers between us just slip away. With a connection, safe space, and no barriers, you and I can focus together on how to bring about positive change for the rest of the world.