1. Helping people who are dealing with heartbreak.
The thing we all really need, but so rarely get, is someone who tells us “If I can do anything to help you, let me know” and actually means it. Even if that means just coming over and hanging out, or bringing food, or watching a movie to keep them company. So often we all get so caught up in trying to compare it to our own experiences, or ask them questions that are super painful to think about, or not actually listening when they say that they don’t want to talk about it. When someone’s going through heartbreak, they are totally isolated in their pain, because even people who have been through the same thing can’t really comprehend their exact situation — and only they have to live through it. Just knowing that someone is there if they need them (and not if they don’t) is what really helps.
2. Supporting people who are looking for a job.
Whenever you ask them if they are still looking, or if they have found any leads, or how it’s going, you are stabbing them in the chest. Either offer your help — if you have some to give — or let them come to you with news. And don’t complain about your job around them, because that’s just rubbing salt in the wound. It’s so easy, when you have a job, to forget that other people don’t, and how much it sucks to be unemployed and looking all the time only to be met with rejection. We can all be assholes about it without realizing it.
3. Promoting your project on social media.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the game of “like this” and “boost that” and “donate to my project” without realizing how irritating it actually is. There is a limit to how much people want to see your stuff promoted, even if they like you, and once it’s passed, you are doing more harm than good. If your work is good, it will speak for itself, and just a little bit of information every now and again to help people get to it is more than enough.
4. Commenting on people’s food.
So often, it’s just a reflex that we don’t even realize we’re engaging in. Someone gets something that’s fattening, or doesn’t eat enough at dinner, or orders something that grosses you out, and you comment. It’s only natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Giving people crap about what they eat (and making them feel like they’re being observed in all of their decisions) is the fastest way for them to start being self-conscious about it themselves, and no one deserves to feel that way over a cinnamon roll. No one.
5. Being a good guest.
The problem with going to people’s houses is that we often don’t know what’s expected of us, but we end up pissing people off more than we probably should, simply because we don’t realize that the best course of action is to ask up-front. Saying “What can I do to make my stay easier?” is the simple task that so many people just don’t think to do, but which prevents the host from seething with resentment over the fact that you didn’t take care of your sheets and towels and at least put them in the laundry basket when you were done. Especially during longer stays. A little communication can go a long way.
6. Making small talk at parties.
We are all so used to the idea of offending each other that often times we don’t even say anything of meaning in a conversation that can last for upwards of 30 minutes. You stay on light topics, you don’t ask any interesting questions, and you generally leave feeling completely unsatisfied. But the truth is that most of us hate small talk, it’s just that very few actually break the norms in parties. We would all be happier if we met new people with conversations about art, philosophy, history, or even just lame dick jokes. There’s no reason to cling onto the shallow subjects.
7. Engaging in proper restaurant etiquette.
Even if we don’t notice it, it is so easy to treat servers like it is their fault if there is a problem, or as if they are some slave that you personally hired who doesn’t have 20 other tables to attend to at the same time. You have been rude to a server before, even if you don’t think you have, and being a good person at restaurants is one of the first markers of being a good person overall. (If you’re a cheap tipper, don’t even talk to me. You don’t deserve to be with the rest of us.)
8. Meeting people of other cultures.
If you think about it, you can definitely remember a few times when you’ve asked obnoxious questions, talked about some terrible cultural stereotype, or made an off-color joke when you met someone from another place in the world. You might have even been like “I totally speak [insert language here]!” and then proceeded to totally not even speak that language a little bit, but to embarrass yourself trying nonetheless. The last thing we should be when meeting someone from a different culture is presumptuous or crass, and yet, that’s so often exactly what we are.