WEBSTER DEFINES THE WORD “cordial” as of or relating to the heart: vital, tending to revive, cheer, or invigorate, heartfelt, gracious. That’s really a mouthful; in fact, that’s worth a few minutes of our time together. Being cordial starts from the heart, as I see it. How do we project cordiality? In answer to that question, allow me to offer four special ingredients:
1. Warm smiles. Now lest you try, let me warn you against faking this. You don’t learn to smile by practicing in front of a mirror. “When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain” (Proverbs 16:15). I’m afraid that some long-faced saints would crack their concrete masks if they smiled—I really am! Nothing repels like a frown . . . or attracts like a smile.
2. Solid handshakes. Now I’m something of a specialist when it comes to handshakes. I’ve experienced about every kind. Some are bone crushers—like a cross between the Incredible Hulk and Goliath (sometimes even from little, elderly ladies!). Others feel completely boneless—like a handful of cool seaweed or a glove full of warm pudding. Rather, it’s one of the ways you can “sharpen the iron” of another with your “iron” (see Proverbs 27:17).
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 . . . which have no other means of release. This allows others to read your feelings for them. Cordiality cannot be expressed indirectly.
4. Words of encouragement. Keep this fresh, free from clichés, and to the point. Call the person’s name (or ask for it) and use it as you talk. If time permits, mention something you honestly appreciate about him or her. Be specific and natural, but do not try to flatter the person. Let your heart be freely felt as your words flow. “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense” (Proverbs 27:9).
Today, I urge you to spread some sweetness, sharpen some iron, have a heart, and convey cordiality!