Consideration for Strangers

Mom, why are you doing that?

Doing what?

Wiping down the counter. We’re not at home.

I know that, Sweetie. I’m wiping it down for that lady who’s waiting to use it.


Thanks so much. Now I can put my bag down without it getting wet.

This little conversation happened in the “Ladies Room” of a local restaurant. And I really did appreciate the fact that I could put my bag down on a dry countertop. But what I appreciated so much more was how this wise mom modeled the right thing to do – and turning her child’s bewildered query into a teaching moment.

Back Up Your Words with Action

In a perfect world with perfect humans, we’d “do the right thing” every time. Our kids would grow up observing us living by the things we say we value – like kindness, courtesy, and consideration for others. We’d be perfect role models! But we’re not. As adults, we are sometimes inconsiderate because, well, it’s more convenient to take the easy way out. We justify our actions to ourselves and move on. At other times, we just don’t think about what we’re doing, the example we are setting, and the impact our actions may have on others.

Here are ten nitty-gritty, everyday ways we can demonstrate consideration for strangers:

Treat service employees with respect and gratitude

When the wait-person sets down the home fries instead of the French fries, or the propane delivery guy tramples the tulips, resist the urge to cop an attitude. No one gets it right every time, not even you. So be reasonable. And when they do something a little extra, be generous with your gratitude.

Keep private conversations private

When you are anywhere in public, do not put your conversation on speakerphone. It’s rude and obnoxious. There is enough “noise” in each of our lives, and we don’t need to be subjected to yours.

Put things back where they belong

You’re in a rush and you had to park a long distance from the shopping cart drop off. I feel you. But it’s just not right to leave that cart willy-nilly in the parking lot. Put it back in its rightful place. And when you decide at the last minute that you really don’t need yet another pair of black leggings, instead of hanging them in the housewares aisle, go back and hang them where you found them.

Clean up after yourself

Yes, this applies to public bathrooms, in restaurants, as well as any other public place.

Clean up after your dog

It is not okay to leave your animal’s waste on the sidewalk, the road, or a neighbor’s grass. Carry those plastic bags and do your part to keep your neighborhood, as well as our parks, free of animal waste.

Use the trash can

If you must, put your trash in your pocket or in your car until you can find a trash can. It may be inconvenient, but littering our community isn’t the answer.

Mind the toilet paper

At home and even in public places, it’s gross to leave the roll dangling on the floor. You wouldn’t want to be the next one to use it, would you?

Mind your place in traffic and in line

Wait your turn. It really is as simple as that. No jumping ahead or “pretending” you didn’t see the other person who was clearly ahead of you.

Take responsibility for your mistakes

We all mess up. The easiest way to respect ourselves and others is to own up. A simple “I’m sorry,” “My mistake,” or a hard to miss look of contrition that says “oops” will usually suffice.

Mind your manners

A “please” at the end of a question, a “thank you” at the beginning of a sentence speaks volumes about you.

Full disclosure: I need to work on three of these…


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