Everyone has encountered the kindness of strangers: someone waiting to hold the door for you, your dinner bill anonymously payed for, a helping hand as you struggle with bags, a compliment when you were feeling your best, but still needed the validation. All of these are good reasons and ways we enjoy one another. Last Spring, I made a conscious decision to Trust My Tingles and took a hosting position at a new local restaurant. I didn’t have much experience working in a restaurant but serving and helping people have always been a big part of my life, especially as Life Coach.

Unsure what to expect from strangers in this environment, I would act in a full service capacity and not worry about the typical label or expectations associated with the profession. Labeling and people, categorizing people as good or bad, can be very alienating especially when judgments are based solely on the Big 8

  1. Race
  2. Sex
  3. Age
  4. Disability
  5. Religion
  6. Sexuality
  7. Education
  8. Money/Status

These actions keep us all separated if we believe that we can only connect/learn something from/love those who look like us and believe what we believe or have what we have. On an off note—and this is discussed in detail in my next book, Knowing—this is something that needs to be addressed in corporate America, where biased and labeling personalities may be in positions of power.

Most of the aforementioned 8 are things we cannot change, but what if the categorization, the way we assessed one another, was based on a Greater 8?

  1. Kindness
  2. Compatibility
  3. Warmth
  4. Goodness
  5. Humor
  6. Relatability
  7. Commonality
  8. Respect

Over the summer, I hosted and met several hundreds if not thousands of people. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of them were kind—not kind in a phony “Hollywood” way. You can make genuine connections with perfect strangers that may not have gone past that afternoon or night, but some may become lifelong.

I recall a mother/daughter pair who were lunching. I knew they were related as the mother wore her blonde/graying curls all over and her daughter tamed hers in a wispy bun. A little pang went off in my heart as I thought about my daughter and that I hadn’t had lunch with her in a while. I jumped right in with, “It’s so nice to see a mother/daughter sighting. It’s rare, right?” I explained that I have a teen.

The mother clutched her chest— “Oh my, we were at each other’s throats when she was a teen.” Her daughter nodded as her mother continued with a hilarious story of one of their epic battles. We all related, laughed and then bonded for just that moment as we shared stories. They both assured me that it was a phase that the teenage years will pass, something I’ve heard before, but it seemed more believable coming from these strangers. It was a healing, funny and cathartic moment. When they left, they wished me the best with my daughter, the mom and I embraced hands and held them there for a moment. I wished them well, these strangers who don’t look like me, whose names I may never know, but who seemed kind, warm, good, funny, relatable, respectful, and there was a certain commonality (7/8 of the Greater 8). Had I evaluated them based on superficial things alone, I may not have had the conversation, right? Instead, I went in being me, and they were receptive and warm.

A couple came in a little later. They were older and just the cutest in their comfort with one another, as they fussed a bit about where and how to sit, which I noticed immediately. Guess what? The topic of mothers and daughters came up again—I’m sure I initiated it as it’d been on the forefront of my thoughts. The wife remarked, “My 21 year old daughter has texted me twice since we’ve been here—she hated me five years ago!”

We wound up talking about a million things and she gave me such savvy advice on business, and when they left, she told me, “I wish I could say we’d be back, but we’re moving to Spain tomorrow before winter! You are lovely to meet, and I wish you all the success in the world…” Warmth and kindness that nearly brought me to tears. They were very kind, warm, good, fun, relatable, respectable people: 6/8.

These are just the most recent interactions with strangers I’ve had, but honestly, I could write a book on my experiences this Summer. You can too, if you pay attention to the interactions you have with people, and maybe evaluate them on the Greater 8! Kindness is out there if that’s what you’re open to receiving, even if it’s from a stranger!