I was walking from Haymarket station into Edinburgh a couple of weeks back and about 30 yards in front of a me a bus swerved out of its lane and then screeched to a halt. I looked to see why and a man on the pavement was looking very sheepish and must have stepped onto the road without looking and nearly got run over…. by a bus!!! The driver got out and gave the man a mouthful and thankfully no harm was done.
Well… physically at least.
The reason for the story is to say it’s been bugging me since then that I didn’t go up to the man and ask if he was OK. I bet he got a real fright and it’s never nice to be on the end of someone’s wrath when you’re clearly at fault. I think someone asking if he was OK and saying its easily done might have positively impacted how he felt about what just happened (the driver too but he was quickly back in the bus and him giving the man a mouthful made me less willing to want to help him!). I had the chance to help and I wish I’d taken it.
Why? Because I believe random acts of kindness are a very easy way to activate the ‘feel good’ emotions we all thrive on and recently I have become much more aware of doing and working out what to actually say.
If, as above, it feels like a situation where caring and empathy would help, then I go with caring and empathy. If it’s a situation where I feel someone might be struggling mentally I avoid asking, “are you OK?”, as it’s too easy for them to just say yes when they really aren’t. Instead I go with a more open question, “hi, sorry for the intrusion but I thought you might be in need of some help and wanted to ask what I can do?”.
Hopefully I don’t see another near miss for a while but either way I feel the emotional memory of the missed opportunity will be useful in helping me more consistently live up to the mantra – if in doubt, say something!
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