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boiMAG.com "Being Nice"

Being Nice Ain’t Easy, but it is important.

Studies (Mullin, 2007; DiSalvo, 2009; Kiderra, 2010; Books, 2011; Brooks, 2013) have shown that being nice can change your mood and, over time, your actions towards others.

When your mother told you, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”, she wasn’t hoping there would be silence on your part. She was hoping that you would develop life skills that would have a positive impact on your work and personal life. Those skills include diplomacy, relationship development and kindness. Your mother was probably hoping that you would develop lifelong empathy and genuine caring for others.

Right in the middle of all of this is mental health. Realizing that everyone needs a verbal “pat on the back” and offering a compliment or encouragement might make a world of difference in someone’s day; in someone’s life, driving them to pay it forward for someone else. We all have a story and many times our stories involve pain and trauma. Kindness can ease pain and create hope. Your kindnesses can be a part of that.

Being nice, though, ain’t easy. Providing compliments and encouragement just doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Finding just the right words and sincerely reaching out is a developed skill, and an important one. Maya Angelou is quoted as saying “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Let’s take a look at ways we can make others remember that we made a them feel good about themselves.

Be genuine. Provide a specific and detailed compliment. Pay attention and you’ll see or hear something that warrants a comment like, “The detail you put in that report is exactly what was needed” or “Thank goodness you were here”. Give people a break. Look for the good stuff. Everyone has redeeming qualities. Your mother said so!

Say. “Thank you”. It really does go a long way. Tell service providers in a store, in health care, anywhere, when you appreciate customer service. People are more likely to complain; it will really make someone trying to help you, want to help even more.

Identify and comment on a characteristic or personal quality over a physical attribute. Telling someone, “You look great in that dress”, won’t mean as much or be remembered as long as “You’re amazing at understanding just how to organize projects”.

If someone makes you feel special, tell them. It validates what they had to say and lets them know you appreciate them for it.

Recognize when someone has done their best. How about, “I know how hard you tried”?

Once you provided a compliment, stop right there. It is easy to add, “but…”, and then the compliment is shadowed by a negative and usually, completely forgotten.

Don’t delay. If you see something great, say something great.

All in all, being nice is a skill. It can be learned. It can be developed. And it always makes a difference.

By the way, you did a great job reading this!