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What Should You Say To Homeless People?

As much as I want everybody to stand on their own two feet, I know that things happen. Even the wealthiest among us can find themselves penniless and desperate. You don’t think so? Take into account monster storms like Katrina and Sandy. They turned the most luxurious estates and real estate investments into rubble. How about when the dot.com and housing bubbles burst? Millions upon millions of dollars lost there. Throw in the exorbitant healthcare costs for an ailing family member, and you have yet another way the financial footing of many families and businesses can be shaken. Shaken hard.

Life insurance is one of the best ways to prevent such a disaster. Beneficiaries get the money needed to keep the house, maintain the business, and protect the investment. Yet even with sufficient cash in hand, people can still be error-prone. A brief perusal of the daily news highlights the many bloopers and blunders made by people with serious money.

The fact of the matter is that the homeless person you bump into tomorrow may very well have been a captain of industry in the recent past. And he or she may yet regain such a position. In the meantime, they are down on their luck. So how should we treat them?

The folks at Nationswell have looked into this. They have some good advice. Here is one of my favorites:

What to say: “Good morning.” Or say “hi” or “hello” or try to acknowledge the person in some way.  “It’s good to hear kindness,” says Joe, who has been homeless in Portland, Ore., off and on for the past 16 years. Regardless of what your greeting may be, it’s important to look the person in the eye when speaking. According to another Portland man, Troy Thompson, who has been homeless several times despite being a skilled carpenter (when he can’t find work, he can’t afford to pay rent), one of the many difficult things about being homeless is that you feel less than human. “It’s like being invisible,” he says. Adds Marbut, “The non-homeless person almost never looks the homeless in the eye. If you just look a person in the eye and sort of nod, it’s the most respectful thing you can ever do.”

Read the entire article. It’s short and sweet. What do you think about their advice? Has it changed your impression of homeless people?