You may have big plans on where you see yourself in 2, 5 or 20 years from now. Conversely, you might not have a clue where life will take you; you have no idea what you’ll be doing in 3 weeks let alone years into your future. No matter what might be ahead in your future, one of the best things you can do now and along the way to wherever you land, you can do no better favour for yourself than to be nice along the way.
Now, already the ‘A’ type personality folks are assembling and some among them are saying that being nice gets you nowhere; that it’s a dog eat dog kind of world. Nice people are fodder to be chewed up and spit out, walked over and left on the lower rungs of the corporate ladders. They might say that nice guys finish last, that you’ve got to claw and fight your way up to every hand-hold you can clasp on the way up because nobody but nobody who amounts to anything will reach back and give you a hand up.
I suppose there are people like that; well let’s be entirely honest – there’s no supposing about it. Yes, there are people and professions that attract those kind of people with those kind of mentalities.
For the majority of us however, what is the price of being nice? Weigh any answer you come up with against the question, what is the price of not being nice? There’s the little gestures and the big ones of course. The big ones are the ones that most often make the headlines; the customer who drops a $3,000 tip for the waitress, the celebrity television host who treats the entire audience with gifts and goodies, makes wishes come true for ordinary people on the shows etc. They’ve got the untold wealth and corporate backing to be the face of niceness.
You and me though? Well, we’re likely just your everyday people; folks who work regular jobs, won’t ever gain widespread recognition. The emergence of social media has given us a platform to share our smiling faces with the world, and that’s likely the most public exposure we’re likely to garner.
Being nice can be self-serving of course and let’s be honest, it sure makes us feel good to do good for others. Drop some coins in a panhandlers cap, open a door for someone, give praise to someone who guts out a personal challenge and part of us feels good inside for doing so. Nothing wrong with making yourself feel good. Do more of it I say.
When you’re nice it can have some ripple effects too. You smile at me and I smile back. A few steps later, I give that smile to someone else and like the wave at a sporting event, it catches on and gets shared. Being nice is like that. I’ve seen first-hand people in cafe’s buy a drink for a stranger in line behind them and then that stranger do likewise for someone else. These aren’t just stories of the goody two-shoes types; these are real people. Sometimes the beneficiary of an act of kindness isn’t thankful true enough, but then again sometimes the beneficiary receives an unexpected act of kindness right at the moment when they needed it most; that reminder of the good around them. It can pull people sharply into the moment if they’ve been wandering around in their own little world, feeling ignored or invisible.
Being nice doesn’t have to cost any money whatsoever though. It can mean asking a co-worker how they’re doing and actually stopping long enough to show you really want to know. It can mean recalling something they told you two days ago and then following up with an inquiry about how that evening went or how that trip with the kids to the theme park turned out. Being nice could mean investing a tad of yourself in what that other person shares as important to them or meaningful to them.
Being nice might mean things that never get seen, never get recognized but nonetheless make things better for others. Maybe you do up a few dishes that aren’t yours at work, you make sure the toilet seat is clean every time you leave the washroom, you sharpen a few pencils at the Reception desk or keep the stapler stocked each morning so someone never gets frustrated looking for a pen.
I was saying to a colleague just yesterday that it was ironic that I was interviewed for a job years later by a woman whose children I supervised while working in a Boys and Girls Club decades ago. Good thing I was nice to both her and her kids! Who could have predicted that life would bring us back into contact that way in a completely different city and context?
Want to shock the person you’re in a relationship with? Send them an email or instant message that reads nothing more than, “Thinking of you just now.” Nice!
Yes, what if you did the odd thing or two simply with a goal and nothing more beyond being nice? You’d better watch out; you might develop a reputation for being a nice person!
Should you find that your acts of kindness go unnoticed or you get taken advantage of, be nice anyhow. We need more people like you.