“People in shorts are always nicer”

Someone half shouted this to me at Putney station back in the summer at 6:30am as I was on my commute to Old Street. Naturally I was wearing shorts, as I often do, because, well, suits (in my opinion) are for weddings and days at the races. And I’ve never looked like a Financial Planner so no point in trying to now.

I stopped and looked up and it was a lady trying to sign people up to Greenpeace. It took me 2 minutes to snap back into the real world and listen to what she was actually saying, because I was too busy thinking if I was actually nice or if I am just nicer when I am in shorts? The jury is still out.

Anyway, 15 minutes passed and I’d signed up £10 a month to support what, on the face of it, is a fantastic cause. I am usually the guy who sees someone in the street trying to talk, promote or sell something and then pretends that he’s on the phone, catching a bus, or simply mumbles “No hablo Inglés”. But here I am, stuck right into a conversation at 6:30am about Greenpeace’s bid to ethically sustain our planet and generally do good in the world. All because she lead with a compliment that, well, honestly, made me feel good.

Call it sad, but it worked, she got me in and now each month 10 of my hard earned little pounds trot off to do their bit toward saving the planet. Before that, those same 10 grubby little pounds would have ended up behind a bar, behind a tobacconist’s counter or in a restaurant. I mean, £10 (and more!) still regularly goes to those places, but just £10 less than before.

Three lessons from this story:

  1. Pay people random compliments and show them (genuine) appreciation cos they’re likely to engage with you. More so, they’re likely to sign up to your cause, your business proposition, your idea or your beliefs.
  2. Just generally be nicer to people - it's easier.
  3. Wear shorts.


Alfie Mullan, November 2018