Practicing Random Acts of Kindness

Okay, so in Part 1 we have a vague overview of RAoKs generally; so in part 2 I thought we might just touch a little bit on When Raoks Go Wrong.

Usually, it would seem that people refuse or become offended by a Raok because they can’t believe that somebody would do something nice without a catch of some form. We’re all used to news stories, urban legends and the Things Our Mothers Told Us; terrorists, kidnappers, perverts, muggers, rapists, poisoners – the list of bogeyman goes on as long you might care to think.

So, some people see a stranger and immediately assume the worst. It is, in a way, understandable. Yet this is one of the things a Raoker wishes to combat wherever they can: the fear that everybody else is out to get you. Mistrust of others is, let’s be honest, usually misplaces – how many people have you met during you entire life, after all? And how many of them turned out to be axe-murderers in the making? The ratio of nice people to nasty swings exponentially in the favour of the nice!

Beware, also, when Raoking friends and loved ones – even those who may be Raokers themselves.

For example; there is the time my paying of an entirely random compliment to a friend once resulted in the suspicious-sounding reply “What did you say that for?”
Or the time a Raoker was sent various nice things by fellow Raokers, and took offence, feeling guilty that others should put their efforts towards him.

The first of those, I believe was the reaction of somebody simply unused to people being nice. The second seemed to take selflessness to extremes.

Fortunately, though, these occasions are rare and Raoking loved ones usually does just make them smile as intended.

Back to Raoking strangers, then. People can sometimes take you by surprise – accepting a Raok from a stranger at the most improbably times. Take the London bombings of July 7th 2005. An indescribably terrible event that left fear levels sky-high and suspicions raised against everybody. And yet, only 2 days after the attacks, four people walked around a large portion of London for hours, just handing out sweets, crayons, bubbles and even a potted plant to all and sundry.

The reaction?

Many people said no. But that is normal, people will always say no.
One lady pushed her children away, harshly stating that they didn’t know where those sweets had been. A policeman asked suspiciously why these people were handing out sweets – although, once informed, was happy to take one for himself.

Sometimes, though, for no reason at all somebody can be vile to you for trying to do something nice. It’s almost enough to put you off for good, when that happens. So what can you do?

Well, if you choose a street Raok for your first attempt or two, 80% of the time you will be faced with at least one refusal, you may be unlucky enough to get an outright rejection, and that can be enough to make you want to quit. For your first street Raoks, I would recommend you do it in a small group, make sure there are one or two others who are used to it and don’t mind the rejection – that, or shed all inhibitions, get yourself a tough skin, and just keep offering until somebody takes. Either way, it really is worth the effort in the end.

Good Raoks to begin with are those that you know aren’t going to be rejected – anonymous ones are especially useful.
-The Royal Mail is good for this – send a random letter to somebody, or to your postman!
-Shopkeepers find it hard to reject something bought and left on their counter for them as you take to your heels at high speed.
-Few hospitals will reject toys for the children’s wards, or flowers for the patients.
-Try sending something nice to your favourite radio presenter.
-Tell somebody their hair looks great (especially if they’re walking out of a hairdressers at the time – alternatively, compliment the hairdressers themselves!).
-Thank a policeman/woman for their good work.
-Give a donation to a small charity that could really use the help.
-Visit one of the various one-click-donation sites and�click!
-Tell a local journalist you enjoyed one of their articles (try to read one of their articles first).

Just a few examples of how to ensure your Raoks don’t go wrong!

Of course, nothing I’ve said so far is going to help you to deal with it if one does. There’s no magic formula, but a few little tips I can offer.

When paying compliments – try to be sure your friend isn’t going to get the wrong idea, that can cause trouble; and if they’re suspicious because they’re unused to it, explain you just felt like saying something nice and leave them to accept it. If they’re your friend, they probably already know you’re harmless so that should to the trick.

If another Raoker takes offence, explain you meant none and you just felt they deserved something nice too, and they should get the picture; if they insist on being stubborn, don’t tell them they’re turning their selflessness into selfishness, but leave them to it, they’ll figure it out eventually.

As for total strangers, well there’s little you can do with a simple rejection other than try again. If somebody is nasty to you, hold back your response, Raok them by not retaliating, take a deep breath, smile and try again,

At the end of the day, if you’re doing something nice because you want to make somebody smile – make sure you remember that, and then when you do leave somebody smiling, nothing else really matters.

Stay tuned for part 3.

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