The barrier between strangers

Let’s say it is your birthday, and you are seated at a restaurant table with your friends and a little party cap on your head. A stranger walks up to your table and wishes you happy birthday. How do you feel?

Given such a generous act leaves both people feeling good – the wisher and the wishee – it is then worth wondering why such a gesture is rare. What prevents people from walking up to the desk and wishing a stranger?

Well, there is a small chance that this gesture could lead to an awkward moment. Their wish might not be received with warmth. They might be rebuked or treated coldly. It fear of this awkwardness that holds us back from such an act.

In many situations, our fear holds us back from making a contribution. Because we are afraid, how much generosity do we leave on the table?

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