Friday, April 20, 2007

Won't You Please Be Nice?

*UPDATED*
I blogged awhile back about the book THE POWER OF NICE. While the book doesn't offer anything particularly groundbreaking or new, it does serve as a good reminder of something we forget all too often. Just being nice. It is something so simple yet so effective.

The other day, I found a website all about being nice. It is called the Gift of Kindess. Anyway, the idea behind the site is that you should go out and do something nice for a complete stranger. Then, you hand them one of these free kindness cards you can order that encourage people to "pay it forward." The cards are generic and say something to the effect of "Someone has just done something nice for you...pay it forward." One example that they gave is to pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru and then ask the cashier to give the person the little card when they drive up.

I really like this idea. I want to try it the next time I go through the Starbucks drive-thru. Something as simple as surprising a stranger by buying a $2 cup of coffee could really make their day. For me, it's often something as simple as someone holding a door for me. Or complimenting me on how I look that day. I think a lot of people poo-poo the social niceties but it's little things like that that can change your entire interaction with a person.

For example...

I walked into a Sprint store last weekend to buy a charger for my phone. I was the first customer of the day and the guy was beyond grumpy. I decided then and there that it would my mission to make that guy smile before I left. I could have taken offense at his gruff and grumpy demeanor. After all, I hadn't done anything to deserve that treatment. But, instead I started joking with him. I poked fun at myself for being up at the crack of dawn to go shopping at the mall in pouring down rain. I thanked him for being so helpful. (even though he wasn't at first) By the end of our short interchange, the guy was not only laughing but he had also offered to open the packaging of the charger for me so I could use it right away. We both left with a smile on our faces. It was great.

I think the hardest thing for people to realize is that when you encounter a rude/grumpy salesperson or customer, it probably has nothing to do with you. And maybe just smiling and saying "please" and "thank you" can change that person's whole day.

I'm going to try to exercise the power of nice more often and practice random acts of kindness. We'll see what happens....

8 comments:

Gary said...

I really like these kinds of books, too. My favorite of all-time is Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" http://tinyurl.com/2xlllb (also available in a small "Golden Book" version that's easy to carry in your pocket/purse/briefcase).

I'll check out "Nice" because I find it helps to read those basic relationship principles in new ways. Kinda keeps things fresh and keeps me from being a jerk.

Genevieve said...

this is a good idea. I know I tend to react to grumpy salespeople by snapping back at them - I will try your technique! If it works at Sprint, it might work anywhere. They are generally terrible!

Literary Feline said...

It's just a part of my nature to always say thank you and smile when someone holds a door for me at the store--or to hold the door for someone else. My favorite smiles are the ones I get that light up a person's face when I acknowledge him or her as I pass by in the store with my own smile or a nod of the head.

I like the idea of paying for the person behind you at the drive thru. I may have to try that. I'm not sure I'd want to give the person my business card though as sometimes what I do for a living can intimidate people. They might think they are in trouble or something. LOL

Malady said...

Oops! Sorry Ms. Feline, I wasn't clear about that. The "business card" is a generic card from Project Nice that says something like "someone has just done something nice for you...pay it forward."

I agree! I wouldn't want some stranger having my info. I think the idea is to do something random and unacknowledged for a complete stranger.

I have no doubt that you and the other readers are "please and thank you" people. Your posts and comments are always so nice!!!

Bookfool said...

I love that anecdote about the guy in the store! I do the same thing. I like to think of it as a challenge to make someone smile if they're grumpy. It gives you such a good feeling when you make someone's spirits lift, doesn't it? And, yes, it really isn't you causing the bad mood; it pays to remember that and think that sometimes people have bad days and it's possible you can be the one ray of sunshine that gets them through a horrible time. You never know. :)

Malady said...

I agree with you, Bookfool! I have been on both sides. I have been a grumpy salesperson and I have been an irate customer. But I'm going to make a real effort to be more pleasant, patient, understanding and just generally "nice" with people.

Bookfool said...

Yep, I've been on both sides, too. I think it was a comment Amy Grant made that nudged me to work on always being friendly, even when people are horrid. Sometimes it doesn't work, but you can always go home knowing you did your best if you're patient and kind. And, you never know what people are going through. You just never know. I sometimes see someone all stressed out and remember how I felt when my father was in a coma or my husband had been traveling every week for several months when my kids were small and that does it.

Malady said...

You are so right, Bookfool, and I am going to try and be more mindful of that.