You Have A Social Responsibility To Be Nice To People Who Talk To You On The Street


Girls, imagine you’re walking down the side of the road when you’re stopped by a homeless man. He looks up with a yellow grin and tells you how pretty you look today. He tells you he likes what you’ve done with your hair. What’s your reaction?

Guys, imagine you’re meeting your 80 yr. old grandmother for lunch. When you arrive, she looks at you and gasps. “My what a terrific looking shirt! You look so handsome in yellow!” How does this impact your day or the way you see yourself?

I’m going to start with the basics. Many times each day you interact with another person that you’ll never see again. That being said, how do you choose to address those interactions? Do you do the easy thing and ignore that person or treat them as they truly are: a complete stranger? Or, do you decide to be a bright spot in someone’s day and choose to positively influence his or her life?

I firmly believe that, with so many opportunities to make a difference, the latter should be done as often as possible. I believe that it’s your duty to your fellow man to try and make the world around you a better place. More specifically, I believe that if you are an attractive individual it’s actually your social responsibility.

A random interaction with a stranger, maybe passing someone on a sidewalk or standing in line waiting to check out, is typically brief. Said stranger makes a judgment about who you are by the words that you say to an extent, but more so by your physical appearance. If 70% of communication really is nonverbal then how you look (facial expressions, natural physical attractiveness, clothing, etc.) is primarily the way that he or she will judge you. How long does it take you to judge someone?

You can say anything to that passerby in your life. Make them laugh. Compliment them on an article of clothing. Say hello to them with a smile and simply acknowledge their existence. Take the time that you’re standing in the checkout line and ask the man or woman working, who’s been on their feet for hours and ignored by everyone who they assist, how their day is going. Do they have plans for the weekend? Did they catch the game last night? Are they happy?

This can be done by anyone. And anyone who has ever worked in a miserable service job knows how impactful it can be when a customer actually takes the time to empathize and treat them like a human being. It makes your day just that much less miserable feeling like someone cares.

Here’s the point of my message:

Girls- If that homeless man stops you on the sidewalk and tells you with a toothless smile how pretty your hair looks, you’d probably thank him kindly and shuffle away with a quickened pace without looking back. What impact would that same statement have if it came from a well kept, handsome gentleman who was around your age? Don’t even tell me that wouldn’t make your day. You would thank him and continue on smiling ear to ear likely to reflect on that moment at the end of the day.

Guys- If your grandmother told you that you looked terrific in that new button-down shirt and that you should wear more yellow, you would likely smile and thank her with a big hug. What would you do if a beautiful blonde said the same thing? Not only would that instantly become your favorite and most worn shirt, but you’d seriously consider buying and wearing more yellow items of clothing.

For whatever reason, people seem to put more weight on the opinions of individuals who are seen as physically attractive. Now I know the examples cited were extreme, but as stated, when interacting with a person for such a short time, most of what that individual will judge you on are your looks. If an average looking guy or girl were thrown into the mix, you may accept their words, thank them for the compliment and let it actually add to your day. Sometimes, however, those opinions get simply ignored or cast aside by thoughts like… “What does he want?” or “Well, duh…” or even “I don’t know you, why are you talking to me?”

So what does this mean? That only beautiful people should attempt to interact with those around them? Of course not. And while we’re on the topic, for all of those who are reading this thinking that it doesn’t pertain to them or that they aren’t attractive enough to make a difference, know that you’re likely far more attractive than you give yourself credit for. Know that despite your insecurities, people will widely see the beauty in you that you don’t or won’t see in yourself. If not, if you truly believe that neither you nor anyone else finds you attractive, that’s still no excuse for not letting your personality shine through. Because although this is an attempt to deepen an inherently shallow aspect of human nature, who you are and not how you look is truly what matters (duh).

Am I saying that only an attractive person’s opinion matters? That every person will take into consideration what you have to say if you’re good looking? Absolutely not. Truthfully, although kind words spoken in sincerity should be heard, not everyone will accept a stranger’s words as truth regardless of appearance. And in no way do I believe that it should make any difference whatsoever. All that I’m saying is, regardless of right or wrong, rational or not, due to human nature an attractive individual frequently comes across as a seemingly knowledgeable source to our egos in that instance.

Maybe it’s because oftentimes attractive individuals simply take the “high horse” road and choose to look down their noses at those they interact with. Filled with arrogance over something God given, the terms “stuck up” or “cocky” are rarely used to describe those who aren’t attractive physically. Maybe going against this often assumed stereotype is where the impact lies. If you present yourself as a genial person who’s excited about life and actually seems interested in the well being of that stranger for even the briefest of moments, you too can have an impact.

This impact can be made anywhere. If a member of the opposite sex looks special in a specific way, find a non-assuming way to point that out to them.

Guys- Girls are typically more conscious about their appearance than we are. They take added time out of their day in order to look nice and hopefully get noticed for doing so. When you notice it, say something! Don’t do it with an agenda. Pay your compliment, watch a pretty girl become prettier with a smile and walk away knowing that you made her feel that much better about herself.

Girls- How good does it feel when a handsome guy pays you a compliment? Imagine how much impact your words have on guys who are hardly, if ever complimented. Women are great about complimenting one another, but guys rarely make any sort of effort to do the same. If a beautiful girl smiles at a guy and compliments him on anything at all, she just boosted his confidence and drastically bettered his day.

For something that takes such little effort, everyone should view these interactions as a potential for making someone a little happier. Guys, if you see another guy wearing a cool jersey out in public, don’t just comment about it to your friends. Tell him you think he has a cool jersey! That is the exact reason he bought and wore that jersey! He, just like everyone else in this world, simply wanted to be noticed for his efforts. (I assure you, your manhood won’t be in jeopardy for conceding a point in the innate competition for dominance that all men subconsciously participate.)

As I said before, girls are typically much better at this than guys. But I’ve found that, at least in American society, people view paying someone else a compliment as a slight to him or herself in some minor way. By acknowledging that someone has something cool or beautiful or interesting that you yourself don’t have, it doesn’t lessen you as an individual. By paying someone a compliment, it actually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. That’s one reason that I believe it feels so good to receive one. A compliment occurs when one person takes time out of their day to positively comment on an aspect of another person’s life.

And here’s a hint: It actually does feel better to give than to receive. Unless you’re a legitimate sociopath, it makes you feel better seeing someone’s life made happier. Making a stranger laugh or letting your waitress rant or merely looking into another person’s eyes and smiling to have them smile back simply feels good.

With that in mind, what is the benefit of keeping the positive thoughts you have toward another individual to yourself? When it takes little to no effort and would knowingly make them feel good, what excuse do you have? Are you really that concerned that a person that you’ll likely never see again will ignore you and keep walking? Will you really feel that uncomfortable knowing your efforts to try to do something nice went ignored?

Everyone should do this. Regardless of your physical appearance or how that stranger will receive it, the attempt should be made to create that positive impression. It’s simple. It’s impactful. It feels good. But as Spider-Man’s late, great uncle Ben once said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Although having pretty eyes laughably compares to having supernatural reflexes and web-shooting abilities, it does still compare.

If you’re attractive and your vote counts for more, then vote often. As ridiculous as it may be, if people will listen to you more just because of the way you look, then let your voice be a positive one in the lives of as many people as you can. If your smile can dry the eyes of a crying stranger or simply brighten the day of someone who is feeling forgotten, then smile. You were blessed with something. Give it back.