The other day, I was driving on a two-lane road when someone came flying past me going the wrong way in the other lane. The car darted in front of me and the driver flipped me off for what seemed like five minutes, but was probably closer to 30 seconds.
I don't think he was even flipping me off - he'd passed a few cars before choosing to dart in front of me. Soon he passed a couple more cars and then a couple more.
I felt the anger begin to rise in me. I was in heavy, stop-and-go traffic and this guy thought he was more important than everyone else? Who did he think he was?
Then I noticed a car trying to pull out of a parking lot and onto the road I was on. I stopped, waved the car through. The anger immediately subsided.
That's when I realized: The best way to get back at someone who does you a bad turn is to do something good for someone else.
Look, I'm no saint and I am pretty sure I totally cut off someone on the subway stairs yesterday and may or may not have muttered an obscenity at a bicyclist who ran a red light and nearly hit me. But it's amazing at how much doing something nice for someone else can change your entire mood.
Maybe others' moods, too.
I noticed behind me that the next car also let a car pull out of the parking lot. And the car behind that did the same. It's completely possible they would have done that anyway. But what if by one small, small action, you can change not just your own mood and mindset, but also that of others?
What if, when someone calls or Tweets to complain about something they think your company did, you listened, apologized for the inconvenience and look into it? Most of the time, people don't want or need huge restitution, they want to be acknowledged.
What if, the next time you're about to turn right and you see someone about to cross the street, you wave that person across the street? What if, the next time you see someone walking toward the same door you're going to walk out of, and you hold the door for that person instead of pushing through ahead of them?