Please Go Ahead.

How using these 3 words daily, will change your life for the better.

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For the last few months, I’ve been involved in a social experiment.  It’s one of the simplest and most effective things I’ve ever tried. I dabbled with this in the past but wasn’t always the best at sticking with it. The experiment involved using three words “please go ahead.”

I decided that regardless of where I was, airports, hotels, restaurants, in my car (especially in my car) I would utter three words “please go ahead” whenever someone maneuvered in front of me, around me, or even needed to just butt in line or nudge me out of the way. I decided I would stick with this regardless of the situation. Someone would literally have to throw an elbow into my gut for me to skip it.

It was the perfect time to try this 3 word experiment. I’d be traveling to several US and foreign cities large and small, along with all of the flight and hotel check-ins that go along with that. I’d be busy as usual around home as well. If you’re a person who sometimes runs late or considers yourself an “excellent driver” who has no time for the other “non-drivers” on the road than this may be a bit difficult to stick with. However, it’s the folks with type A personalities that will benefit the most. So stick with it.

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Once you find yourself involved in this experiment, you automatically become more observant of the people around you since you’re letting them go ahead of you.

I found this especially evident on airplanes, as people maneuver to get off the plane first, using series of elbow and hip checks along with swinging large overstuffed bags out of the overhead bin like a battle axes. It’s really fascinating to watch this on overcrowded flights. On a full flight arriving in Houston, I was surprised to see a woman maneuver her way around a blind person trying to get out of their seat. The two passengers on the other side of the aisle seemed surprised by this, but then immediately pulled their large bags out of the overhead bin and also maneuvered past the blind passenger as well. Sad.

I guess people think as long as they don’t run into a person or otherwise exude rudeness, what’s the harm of quickly maneuvering around them. If they do happen to bump into them, they can just utter a quick sorry or “excuse me” over their shoulder as they kick it into high gear, that is until they get to the line of people on the jet ramp they need to maneuver around as well.

The crazy thing is, that the more people I said “please go ahead” to the more often I ended up seeing them in other lines like customs or baggage claim or even the next red light. If I had just scooted around them, I wouldn’t have remembered what they look like. I learned that people often overestimate the effectiveness of their squirrel-like maneuvering. They’re really just burning more gas, more energy or creating unneeded stress for themselves. 

My “please go ahead” experiment was put to the test in Mexico City, one of the 10 largest cities in the world, a teeming metropolis with of tens of millions of very busy people. One of the first things I learned is that the days of the “Siesta” have long been over, especially in the city.

In fact, Mexicans work some of the longest hours in the world according to OECD. There is a lot of rushing around, multiple jobs, large companies, fast talking sales pitches from every direction. I stuck with it, you can just go with the flow and let the crowds, traffic and crazy ass buses roll on by. Watch the hell where you’re going, or you’ll get run over. As busy as the city is, I noticed many of the cafés and taquerias were nearly empty at midafternoon. Everyone was on the sidewalk rushing around.

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The most interesting thing I found about using “please go ahead” is that when you take one second to be polite you’ll notice something about the person now in front of you. More often than not you’ll catch a smile or wave, disrupting their pattern of busyness. You’ll also notice that it really doesn’t add any time to your already busy day. You will be less stressed and more effective.

If there were three words that would improve your personality, lower your blood pressure, make you a better driver and an all around happier person would you give a shot?

Please go ahead.

The Frug.

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