I was once told “You’re too nice!” by a former coworker. And it was not meant as a compliment!  Mind you, this former coworker was not the nicest person herself.  Actually, she was the bully that I wrote about in another post about bullying.  What was I being “too nice” about, you may ask?  Well, I’d gotten a voicemail message meant for someone else and I returned the call to let that person know they hadn’t reached “Jacqueline”.  I’m not even sure if the caller had reached the correct company. But she needed to confirm a sales order.  The call-back took all of 2 minutes of my time, didn’t require much effort, and most importantly, it helped the woman out. I still don’t get how that can be considered being “too nice”? But my co-worker said that she would have just deleted the voicemail. She wouldn’t be “so nice” to call and let that person know they had reached a wrong number.  Honestly, I really don’t think that particular scenario showed me to be too nice.  But it definitely showed that my coworker was, to put it bluntly, a total bitch!




I do try to be nice as much as I can. Yes, there are times I’m in a grumpy mood, or when I can get annoyed with other people. But overall, I do try to treat people nicely. I just think it’s the right thing to do. 




When I walk up to a salesperson or a cashier or someone working at a store where I’m shopping, I always say hello, good morning or ask how they are doing. Why? Because it’s nice to acknowledge that they are more than just someone there to “serve” me.  I do get thrown off a bit when the reaction is somewhat hostile, with a stone-face or that look that says “Why the hell are you trying to be nice to me?”, or the reaction that shows they really just want you to get on with it already. But usually, the result is a smile back, some pleasantries, and I may even get better service.  Or, at the very least, I get to feel good for having treated another human being with respect and kindness.  Even those who don’t respond in a positive way.  Maybe they’re having a hard day and I hopefully made it a tiny bit nicer (or at least no worse).  Remember, you have no idea what someone else is going through.  So, give them the benefit of the doubt!




I also really try my hardest to not walk around with “Resting Bitch-Face”. I’m amazed just how many people out there have RBF.  We’ve all heard that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, so smiling should be easier. But even if that is just an old wives’ tale, I’d much prefer the smile creases around my eyes than the two frown lines between them!  I know that I may seem a bit strange walking around with a small smile on my face.  Especially here in New York City.  But that’s ok.  To paraphrase Dori from Finding Nemo … “Just keep smiling, just keep smiling …”




The other day as I was walking to work, I passed a gentleman as he walked out of the local coffee shop. He hadn’t held the door open for the young lady carrying a tray filled with coffees who was exiting behind him. As soon as he realized what he had done (or actually, not done) he quickly turned and went back to hold the door, apologizing profusely, saying that his Mother didn’t raise him to be the type of man who doesn’t hold doors for others. He was clearly upset with himself.  A block later, as he and I waited next to each other for the light to change, I could tell he was still disappointed in himself for not acting like his mother had raised him to act.  I gave him a smile to hopefully lift his spirits.




That made me wonder … what mother DOES raise their child to be rude and inconsiderate? Really, are there any Moms out there that would take pride in raising a self-absorbed, chip on their shoulders, rude person? And yet, there are so many people in the world walking around with such negative attitudes toward each other, itching for an argument, or getting offended by every little thing. 




When I have encountered such people, like the jerk who purposely stomped on my foot while getting on the subway the other day (yes, he did it on purpose, because he said I shouldn’t be standing near the door, even though there was plenty of room for the dozen or so people ahead of him to enter the subway car without any issue), I actually say to them … “Your Mother must be so proud of what a rude jerk you turned out to be!”  I hope it makes them think of how they would look if their loved ones were witnessing how mean they are being to a total stranger.




And while it is important to be nice to strangers, since you don’t know what they’re going through, and because it will make the world a nicer place overall, we should definitely be nice to those closest to us!  Sometimes, the familiarity makes us complacent.   The people who are your friends and your family are the ones who most deserve your niceties. 




We are not born to be nice or to be mean.  It’s not in our DNA.  Being nice or being mean … they are each a choice we get to make.  For me personally, the RIGHT choice is to try to be nice! Even if others may think I’ll finish last! 




[REVISED POST FROM PRIOR BLOG]