Why be kind to strangers?


Had to smile the other day when a complete stranger comes up and tells me “You are brave and amazing”. I was a bit gobsmacked to tell you the truth. A complete stranger bothered to see my plight? Then to go the extra distance?…Wow! I did get a buzz from receiving those words. I had a smile on my face, and a spring in my step for the rest of the day. It’s that whole dynamic of a complete stranger doing or saying something nice when there’s nothing in it for them.

I lived in a rural area years ago. During floods an elderly couple had gotten their car stuck in the middle of a flooded road. They were waiting to be towed “Could be hours” they said. It was an empty road with farmland on all sides. After I’d checked they were OK I headed home and made a thermos of tea to bring back for them. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Imagine my surprise when I read about it in the newspaper a few weeks later. Them thanking an unknown stranger for reaching out to them. I guess with living rural that’s just the way we did things.

Acts of kindness led me to this article I found on the BBC website Does it pay to be kind to strangers? – David Robson, Nov 2015

The article has a broad base covering off movements like Pay it Forward and Free Hugs, right through to smiling or complimenting people. If you’re like me I can get a tad suspicious these days though. The old Neurolinguistic Programming movement totally put my guard up. I hate people trying to manipulate others. With that in mind I’m looking firstly at the way most people react that’s mentioned in the article.

How people react

  • Cynical
  • Hostile
  • Mistrust
  • Stares of bewilderment
  • Stranger danger
  • Suspicion and scorn
  • Thankful
  • Think there is an ulterior motive
  • Want to offer a reward

Why strangers help people they don’t know

  • A reason to get out of bed in the morning
  • Feel like they’re making a difference
  • Givers glow
  • Helpers high
  • Get satisfaction
  • Practical – “Well I didn’t want it so I thought someone else might”
  • Paying it forward – The domino affect. You do something nice and that person will do something nice to someone else.
  • Philanthropists – Seek to promote the welfare of others. Generally monetarily
  • Cause they want something (OK I added this but you were thinking it)

The art of being kind

An interesting topic. The article goes into to it further with recommendations into how to go about doing acts of kindness and why. A good read but I did feel it pushed only one side of the agenda. I’m just getting a bit cynical these days. Regardless, there are some kind people out there that really help put back your faith in humanity. Maybe we should all give it a go but I think the real beauty is in random acts of kindness. A rare jewel.

Dezzie 2022

6 thoughts on “Why be kind to strangers?

  1. Hi Dezzie. Great post, and I loved the comparison of why people are kind. In this somewhat divided world we live in, it’s not hard to see why so many get joy from doing a good deed, yet, some are untrusting and leery because they can’t imagine why someone would be kind to them without expectation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this…and in particular the part about neurolinguistic folk. I’ve been on the other end of that…and couldn’t put my finger on it. Thank you for sharing how that might be ingenuine. Great read.

    Liked by 1 person

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