How to Say, “I Love You” With Your Greetings and Goodbyes

How to Say, “I Love You” With Your Greetings and Goodbyes
I am a professional speaker so I fly just about every week. After working out of town and flying hours in a cramped plane I arrive in Atlanta, a weary traveler. Then I have a long walk and train ride. Every week on this journey I am surrounded by a sea of sad and exhausted travelers, all wearing what I call “Friday Faces,” the tired look of someone who has worked and traveled all week and is just barely hanging on until the weekend. In fact, sometimes I look at the travelers around me and they look like they are soldiers who have been in battle and they are coming home from war.
When we reach the top of the escalator, something magical happens.  There is a sea of loved ones, holding, “I love you” signs and carrying roses, ready to touch and hold us and transform our Friday Faces, to faces full of love. We are greeted with love and the greeting transforms us and bonds us with our loved ones.
In one study done at airports, 60% of people engaged in touching when greeting or saying goodbye to another person. And other studies show that we linger and give more touch as we say goodbye in any interaction.
I believe we should greet our loved ones every day as if they have come home from battle. We should hold them, touch them, kiss them and give them our love and undivided attention.

Greetings Home

Every evening when my father came through the door from work, he would give a high two note whistle to signal he was home and my mother, my teenage sisters and I would come running to greet him. It didn’t matter what we were doing. My mother’s cake batter could be stirred later, my sister’s records could be listened to later and my Malibu Barbie could wait to go out in the convertible with Ken. Daddy was our priority and we would run to him, sharing hugs and kisses with each other, with me being grabbed in his arms and thrown in the air. We would have a few minutes of love and laughter. I was fortunate that my parents were so demonstrative.  Message: Greetings are an important ritual for family bonding and bonding in general.  Always make a loving ritual of hellos and goodbyes.

          No matter where you are in the house, drop whatever you’re doing, and greet your spouse with a kiss and or a hug hello when they come home. Go to them immediately, even if you are on the phone, working, or cooking, this communicates that he or she is the most important thing to you. If you are with other family members, bring them with you to greet your sweetie. Get them excited. If you have small kids and they run to greet your sweetie, go with THEM. 

           Each time you greet with your time, your speed of reaction, your eye contact, your presence and your touch, you are saying nonverbally, “You come first.”  A warm welcome actually decreases the chance of stress, conflict and arguing later on. 
This can reduce conflict in your home as well. In a research study where teachers and principals stood at the school doors or classroom and shook hands with students as they entered, school attendance was higher and bad behavior was lower. Don’t you think in your home if you started the night right by greeting your sweetie as they came in the rest of the night would go better?

Goodbyes and goodbye hugs and kisses have a big impact too. These words and gestures say “I leave you with love.”  With a touch goodbye, you anchor yourself to your mate. I recommend creating a “secret touch” I suggest that you agree on a non-verbal love signal shared just between the two of you.  It can be a lingering look, a touch on the forearm, a cupped hand on the side of the face, a kiss to both cheeks, a touch of forehead to forehead, and that three second look or touch can mean, ‘I love you,’ ‘I want you right now’ or ‘You look great to me’,” or “I send you off with all my love.”  There are other choices. Your secret love signal could be as simple as a sly smile, or your lips puckered up, or maybe a quick wrinkling up of the nose. It could be as simple as a tilt of the head to indicate you’d like to rest your head on his shoulder or allow her head to rest on yours as a gesture of warmth and respect. Words are not always needed. The secret love signal can recreate the love each time it is given.
Because I have been recommending making a ritual of goodbyes and hellos in your household, I have gotten many emails from attendees saying things like, “My spouse treats me so differently now that I get up and greet them at the door when they come home.” “I am amazed how much it seems to ease the stress of my husband when I go and greet him at the door.” “I have seen my sweeties face light up now when she comes home in a way it didn’t when I didn’t go to hug her when she came home.”
We have a favorite family recording of a greeting home. The coming home greeting was done by the local television station during the gulf war. My brother-in-law Sheldon is coming home from many months of danger in the Gulf. As he gets off the plane at first he looks lost and then, he sees his family and they see him. My sister and their children leap up and run full blast to him with their arms up and open. They are smiling and crying and it’s a love fest. My brother-in-law Sheldon bonds with his family, he is transformed. 
So I say to you, Get up off the couch, come down from the office, put down your small tasks and rush to your sweetie. Go to the door to say hello every night when your loved ones come home.
This chapter was inspired by an interview I did for the Toronto Sun today. Here is the article.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at