Spread the smile – or the scowl

The title of this month’s NLP Newsletter is Spread theDriving: You can spread the smile - or the scowl smile or the scowl! It’s about being generous and courteous towards other road users whilst driving – for the quite selfish reason that if you’re nice to them many will reciprocate with a wave or a smile or flash of lights – so you feel good – and it gets passed on.

It’s an example of the NLP principle that people operate systemically: we tend to respond similarly to how others treat us. So if you tend to give way to other drivers and pedestrians they tend to pass the favour on to others – causing little ripples of goodwill.

And, of course, they won’t all do it – there’s a difference between ‘they tend to’ and ‘they will’. We can each decide which type of driver we are prepared to be influenced by.

Darkest rush hour or a sunny morning

Just after writing the newsletter I had to go out in Bournemouth’s evening rush hour. The traffic was heavy and it was gradually getting dark. But I decided to be very selfish and do lots of ‘giving way’. I’ve no idea if people smiled or waved back but lots flashed their headlights in acknowledgement. And the traffic moved along nicely.

It’s true that sometimes I was two or three cars further back in the traffic flow that if I’d not given way but that doesn’t affect journey time.

Next day it was bright and sunny and we drivers could see and respond to one another. Lots of smiles and waves – but then bright and sunny days tend to bring out the best in most people so let’s see what happens in a wet and windy morning rush hour.

It’s quite selfish

Of course, it doesn’t really matter how others respond – what matters is how you feel as a result of doing it.

For me, doing an extra bit of the ‘being courteous’ affects my mood – I drive a bit more comfortably, I’m not as easily affected by the bad or inconsiderate driving of others, and I seem to arrive at my destination un-stressed and just as promptly.

Don’t over-do it, though

One thing you do need to watch, though… There can be a limit to this courteous thing – if not for you then for the people following you!

So don’t overdo the giving way or you could begin to irritate them. Personally I find that, despite my clear thinking and good intentions, I can tend to get just a wee bit antsy if the car in front gives way to all and sundry.

Though, on reflection, maybe it’s just that they’re denying me the chance of giving way and feeling good as a result…?