The heart of the term "cordial" is the word "heart." And the heart of "heart" is kardia, a Greek term that most often refers to the centre of our inner life—the source or seat of all the forces and functions of our inner being. So when we are cordial, we are acting on something that comes from and affects the very centre of life itself. Maybe that's why Webster defines "cordial" as "of or relating to the heart; vital, tending to revive, cheer or invigorate, heartfelt, gracious."
Being cordial literally starts from the heart, as I see it. It begins with the deep-seated belief that the other person is important, genuinely significant, deserving of my undivided attention, my unrivalled interest, if only for a few seconds. Encouraged by such a belief, I am prompted to be sensitive to that person's feelings. If he is uneasy and self-conscious, cordiality alerts me to put him at ease. lf she is shy, cordiality provides a relief. If he is bored, cordiality stimulates and invigorates him. If she is sad, cordiality brings cheer. What a needed and necessary virtue it is! How do we project cordiality? Try these four basic ingredients:
1. A warm smile
A smile needs to become a natural part of your whole person, reflecting genuine friendliness. Nothing is more magnetic or attractive than your smile, and it will communicate volumes to the other person.
2. A solid handshake
Never underestimate the value of this cordial expression, my friend. The handshake is a rare remaining species in the family of touch, and it is threatened with extinction.
3. Direct eye contact
Accompanying every handshake and conversation, no matter how brief, ought to be an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter. The eyes reflect deep feelings enclosed in the secret chamber of your soul...feelings that have no other means of release. Eye contact allows others to read these feelings. Cordiality cannot be expressed indirectly.
4. A word of encouragement
Keep this fresh, free from clichés, and to the point. Call the person by name and use it as you talk. Be specific and natural, and deliberately refuse to flatter the person. Let your heart be freely felt as your words flow.
"Oil and perfume make the heart glad, / So a man's counsel is sweet to his friend." (Proverbs 27:9)
Spread some sweetness...have a heart...convey cordiality!
How are you doing in the cordiality department? Try to be conscious of it this week, without being self-conscious.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.