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How to be nice (because nice isn’t hard)

By Jessica Allen | Life

Jul 27
Nice isn't hard

Since when did it become so hard to be nice?

My heart broke a little in the grocery store last week.

I loaded up the baby and went inside because I needed to pick up prescriptions, was missing several items from my last pickup order, and needed to return some wrong-sized light bulbs.

The woman at the desk was frazzled. I could tell my laundry list of requests was the last thing she wanted to handle. And as she made fun of herself for not seeing the light bulbs on my receipt, I tried to ease the tension by simply saying, “I can only imagine how googly-eyed you must be today. Yours isn’t an easy job lately.”

Her shoulders dropped 3 feet, and as she finally looked me in the eye over her mask she replied, “People are just so mean right now.”

She went on to explain, “They just want *everything.* So I just try to help them get it.”

We chatted for a few more minutes before the sky got black and I ran with the stroller through the rain to get back home before Hanna’s first big weather band hit. I think - I hope - I left that sweet lady at the customer service desk a little better than I found her.

Related: 10 Things to Say Instead of Picking a Fight

No excuses

It doesn’t matter how:

  • Tired
  • Frustrated
  • Anxious
  • Hungry
  • Worried
  • Lonely
  • Fearful
  • Late
  • Important
  • Depressed
  • Angry
  • Distracted
  • (any other emotion) you are.

There’s absolutely no reason to be short, rude, or demeaning to someone. Especially if that someone’s literal job is to help us.

People really are trying their best

Research psychology has actually tested and proven that the vast majority of people, the vast majority of the time, are truly doing the best they can. (Even if we can’t fathom how *that* could possibly be “someone’s best.”)

And, here’s another reminder that’s kept me from spouting off more times than I’m willing to admit: People have their reasons, even if we can’t understand what they are.

I feel like this is an especially important nugget to tuck into our pockets as we head back to school. And for those of us still in virus hotspots. Anxiety and emotions are running hot as we watch people thinking and behaving differently than we think is right. News Flash: there is not going to be even ONE decision made by politicians or educational/church/corporate leadership that pleases 100% of the people.

BUT.

1) People are doing the very best they can, even and especially people in positions of influential leadership, and
2) People have their reasons, even when we can’t understand what they are.

Choose to be nice

Contrary to what the media depicts, you can disagree with someone’s perspective and behavior without ripping them to shreds. (Hard sometimes.)

ALSO contrary to what the media depicts, you can actually disapprove of a decision and keep your mouth shut about it, and/or choose not to try to change someone’s mind. (Harder always. And doubly frustrating, because it rarely works.)

You can need something and ask someone kindly for help instead of demanding it like a raging toddler. I have one of those in the house. I know.

Related: Make kindness your greatest strength

A simple formula for nice responses

My general protocol when I feel torqued up and ready to chomp someone is this:

  • Look the person in the eye (so I can remember they’re a human being too)
  • Exhale
  • Say something kind, or
  • Say thank you and walk away.

I can’t expect other people to be nice to me all the time or respect the way I think, feel, and act. But I can hold myself to a basic standard of nice. I can also humble myself and apologize when I inevitably blow it and treat someone like garbage because I couldn’t control my temper. (However, if your apologies outnumber your kind encounters, it’s time to reevaluate the way you do business.)

Related: Bringing Your Best (when all you've got is your worst)

Nice is contagious too. Try it. And if it doesn’t work - because sometimes it doesn’t - shake it off. Being a butthead never makes a bad situation better. (I would tattoo this exact sentence on my 9-year-old son’s body if I thought it would help.)

Just be nice. Nice isn’t hard.

HP,

J

P.S.

I'd love to hear from you.  What are you wanting to hear about during this unusual season?  Feel free to comment here, pop an idea on our Facebook/IG pages, or send me an email.  Just remember... be nice. 😉

About the Author

Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have 4 children, LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and brand new baby Elisha.