Are you nice to everyone you meet? I don’t mean work colleagues or friends; that’s easy. But what about strangers? Are you polite to them?

And what about those people whom you may think are ‘beneath’ you? How are you towards janitors, cleaners, waiters or waitresses, bin men or garbage workers? What about the unemployed? Do you speak to them with the same respect, or in the same manner that you would if you met a millionaire, lawyer or accountant? Or what about a celebrity? Would your smile be the same even if your words were kind? Would your mannerisms be the same?

I once worked as a cleaner in my younger days before I became ambitious. I noticed that some people whose offices I cleaned looked at me in disgust as I polished their tables and wiped their ‘phones. There were others who would speak to me and give me the time of day with a rather cold smile. And a few would engage in conversation with me and were genuinely lovely people.

I wonder how some of those same people would view me now as a published author? I am sure that the warm, generous responses I received from those lovely office staff would more than likely be the same now. I also guess that those who couldn’t look me in the eye as a cleaner, would happily shake my hand as an author. (Note: I couldn’t careless about being a published author from an egotistical point of view I am only using this as an example because others view me differently since I have become one)

I was thinking about this today because we have a great student intern working for our company as a part time administration staff. I took her for coffee today to see how she was settling in and if she was coping with the recent death of her grandmother. She has only been with us a couple of weeks and with me being away I hadn’t had chance to speak to her properly until this afternoon.

What a great young lady she is too. I discovered that she already has a successful online boutique with a partner-student. She swims for the university and has an exceptionally high IQ. She is driven, ambitious and wise. I believe she will go onto great achievements in the next few years. Yet if you looked at her you wouldn’t be able to tell this at first glance.

The same can be said when you next bump into that janitor, street cleaner or waiter. What do you know about them? How do you know they are not the next CEO of a fortune 500 company? Or a lawyer you may need one day? Or the next big business mogul, cleaning toilets to earn extra cash while they are working on their plans. And who suddenly move in next door to you when their hard work pays off. How do you know they haven’t been a millionaire or highly successful, at some point and have since fallen on hard times?

The simple answer is you don’t.

One high executive lady, when I used to clean her office all those years ago and who used to speak to me often, believed in me without really knowing me. A few kind words from her gave me some much needed self-belief. So much so that I still remember the words and the account of it all.

“Be kind to that stranger whom you meet; they could be an angel in disguise” Isn’t that the way it should be?

Being a people watcher I notice how many people do look down their noses at those they consider beneath their status, intelligence, age, area they live in, car they drive or income level. And worse still, because of the color of their skin.

Try and be kind in word and deed equally to all those who you meet. They could be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates in the making. Or they could have been thrown into hard times through outside circumstances and your kind words could give them a little hope and reignite their belief. You just never know how much you may influence their life.

And they could remember you for a long, long time.