Reducing Anonymity

Imagine you are driving on a highway on a Saturday morning. The road is like a ribbon of concrete ready for you to unfurl—not the usual heavy traffic where you can see only the vehicle in front of you.

Your eyes begin to meander. You appreciate the azure blue sky with an occasional cloud, the verdant landscaping along the road, and the beauty of the day.

You glance in the rear view mirror and realize that someone is tailgating you so closely that you can almost feel the driver’s breath on your back. You look at your speedometer; you are going faster than the speed limit allows.

You move over one lane to allow the car to pass. As the speedier car pulls alongside, you glance at the driver and notice his hand going up in what looks like the beginnings of an unfriendly gesture. But then, your eyes meet, and you recognize each other.

Does the other driver complete his original intended gesture?

No. What started out as an unfriendly motion moves into a polite wave of friendliness. What prompted the change? Answer: The driver was no longer anonymous.

Anonymity does interesting things to attitudes and behavior. One of the most important steps in promoting responsible behavior and improving your effectiveness is to reduce anonymity with those you want to influence.