It Doesn’t Hurt to Be Helpful

We said in the previous Rule that the angry person you encounter may have had a bad day before getting to you. Let’s try to make it a good day for all of them before they get to someone else. Let’s spread a bit of goodwill around out there and then maybe, just maybe, mad cyclists won’t be quite so ready to rear up and be abusive and aggressive. Perhaps no one had been kind to him that day. Perhaps no one had been kind to him for a very long time. See, it’s all your fault. If only you’d been a bit nicer to him, he wouldn’t have taken out his wet angst on the rest of us that day.

Always offering a hand and being generally decent to everybody is really easy once we get into the mindset that it’s what we are supposed to be doing. It can become your “default” behavior. So your first reaction becomes, “Yes, sure, I can show you how to do that, no problem,” rather than, “I’m very busy; can’t you ask someone else?”

Try it as a different approach at work and see what it does for your reputation and career. Being known as someone who is always ready to help does not get you known as a pushover. Quite the reverse, in fact.

If you see a woman in trouble—even if it’s only that they’ve spilled their groceries getting it into the back of the car—you can always go up and say, “Can I help?” If she wants you to she’ll accept and if not…well, you tried, and that’s the main thing.

This is all about going into every day thinking the best of people, being the first to smile, seeing where somebody might need a hand instead of bustling on the past. It’s about trying to see a situation from others’ viewpoint, being sympathetic if they have problems—you don’t have to solve them all. It means taking the time and trouble to make sure people around you are OK. And yes, this does mean strangers as well. If we all took the trouble to smile occasionally at strangers, the world might start each day on a slightly less confrontational foot.

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