The Art of Exchanging Pleasantries

Congeniality . I’ve witnessed it everywhere in Italy; on every cobblestone road, on city buses and train cars, in outdoor café’s, in the village piazzas, at the local barber shop and in the corner apothecary.  But it really struck  me one day when I was shopping for a simple cartridge pen in a little stationary store in Parma, off of Via Garibaldi. I was greeted by a woman who was passionate about stationary, pens, ink, and the sfumature (subtleties) of the fine art of hand writing. She asked me what I would be using the pen for and before long we were engaged in  an entire conversation on the joys of using cartridge pens. She brought out a little cup of caffe’, and transformed my shopping experience into joyful oretta of lively chatter and laughter. I left that store with more than just a pen. I left with a heart that was light and full of possibility.

It is time to turn back the hands of time in our individual lives. We must stop our crazy “busy-ness” and make the time to scambiarsi convenevoli—exchange pleasantries with our neighbors, be congenial to those on the elevator who press the buttons to our floor destination, make small talk with our local shopkeeper, and leave others who are in line in front or back of us at the grocery check-out  feeling good  about having crossed our path today.  I guarantee it will be time well spent!

The art of congeniality seems to be going the way of the hand-written letter, in lieu of quicker, faster-paced, multi-tasking lifestyles.  How did we  ever get to the point where we give hurriedness a place of such great importance in our life? And where are we hurrying to, that we cannot take a few moments to acknowledge the human need for social interaction?

Of course, use good judgment in who you talk to when you don’t know someone. But what harm is there in making a positive comment to the waiter/waitress who serves you, or  the person who delivers your mail? You can really make someone’s day, just with your smile as you walk your dog and pass by the person who needs it. Yes, you have the power to spread wonder wherever you go. Use it today and see what happens.


Need some encouragement to get through the bumps?  By popular demand I have added a new advice column to this blog,  so if you are so inclined, you may send your question in to me: , and  I will post it on my consigli/advice page . I do not use real names, and will change the names you have written in your questions. Looking forward to helping to guide you through your glitches , as I continue to get through mine! Love to hear from my readers!


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