Hospitality lessons learned from an unusual source

“Hello! What is your name?” the young man greeted me as I entered the facility.

“I’m Rebecca.”

“I’m Brian” he responded with a broad smile.

“I’m glad to meet you Brian.”

With that, he took me by the hand and introduced me to his several dozen pals who he hung out with daily, not missing one. This facility was provided as a place for structured activities during the day for those with developmental disabilities, like Down’s Syndrom. They are then returned to their families or group home in the evening. My friend Cynthia’s 55-year-old sister, Carole comes here daily and we’d come to fetch her for our own outing.

Brian was the epitome of a host, although I’m certain that was not his official title. He was just an outgoing, friendly and polite young man who wanted to make sure I felt comfortable, even though I was only at the facility for 10 minutes. I admired his fearlessness in taking in a stranger and making me feel welcome. It dawned on me that this was not a common trait — that many people shrink from strangers and few would take it upon themselves to introduce someone new to everyone present. His boldness and open heart were inspiring.

I realized I am often one of those who doesn’t always ensure new people are comfortable in a group of old pals. I’m right on the line of introversion/extroversion and I find the introvert takes over when it comes to strangers. If I have a role, like “greeting committee,” “host,” or “board member” I’m pushed into the extrovert zone and forced to overcome my introversion. This is a good thing. I marvel at someone like Brian’s whole-hearted welcoming committee of one.

How are you at introducing yourself and others to someone new? Are you the first one to put out your hand at a meeting or event? Do you offer the hospitality of a welcoming smile and open spirit? When you focus on making others feel at home, often you’ll find you feel more at ease yourself. Plus, you’ll meet interesting and memorable people who may just offer a lesson. Like Brian.