The Power of Welcome

A simple, inviting word, welcome has the potential to bond people and warm hearts. Yet it’s the sincerity with which the welcome is extended that matters. Sadly, power has been stripped by society’s overuse of the term, as if it’s the word, rather than the underlying message that extends the invitation to belong. We’ve all experienced the hollowness of scripted messages, dutifully delivered by obedient tongues and voice recordings.

Whenever cast into the role of societal outlier, one’s radar becomes fine-tuned and faux welcomes are readily detected. However, a sincerely delivered welcome cracks open doors of possibility and dangles the priceless prospect of belonging. Such welcoming messages convey acceptance and worth, sweeping away discomfort for the intended recipient—whether a customer, neighbour, colleague or stranger. The duration of the interaction matters not. It’s the spark of engagement that makes one want to linger in the moment and encourages us to return for a refill. After all, a sense of value and belonging can be fleeting and there’s no such thing as too much.

No single person can stop people from extending faux welcomes and hollow well wishes. Yet individually, we can choose not to reinforce society’s superficiality. We’re programmed to respond with smiles and a hollow “you too”, which is just as meaningless. I’ve not yet developed a polite, respectful strategy to disengage from the charade. Firmly believing in the adage that continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection, I’ll accept the challenge to disengage from the dance. Please join me.

Susan Dunnigan

September 2021