The angry person you encounter might have had a bad day before they got 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.

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’ behaviour. So your first reaction becomes ‘Yes, sure, I can show you how to do that, no problem’, rather than ‘I’m swamped, can’t you ask someone else?’

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

If you see someone in trouble – even if it’s only that they’ve spilt their shopping getting it into the back of the car – you can always go up and say, ‘Can I help?’ If they want you to, they’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 past. It’s about trying to see a situation from their 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 footing.

Notes from The Rules of Life by Richard Templar.

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