Are you feeling a little “Rough around the Edges”? Sometimes charging through life as many of us do, we forget to be nice. Successful relationships, both in the personal and professional world tend to be better when you are a nice person. Sounds simple enough? There are shelves of books, university level courses, and hours worth of workshops on this topic. I am providing a short list. This list should be a starting point on niceness. If you utilize these skills consistently, you’ll move on to the next step of building and maintaining meaningful relationships. Failure to implement these first steps will make relationship management irrelevant because you won’t get past “hello”:
1. Be interested before being interesting: Always sincerly ask the other person how he or she is doing (or how the weekend/vacation/holiday was) and listen to that person’s answer. Do not “one up” the response with something similar in an effort to add to the conversation. Respond only when the other person invites you with a
“how about you?” Nothing endears someone to you more than listening to what they have to say about themselves. Many times I have heard someone verbally step on someone’s story of a treasured trip with the family with a tale of “superior vacation” or weekend ski trip trumped by a holiday ski extravaganza to Aspen. Please, oh Please don’t squash the prized possession of your acquaintance’s happy feeling. After all, you didn’t ask the question about his weekend with an ulterior motive of telling your tale did you? If you did, DON’T!
2. Don’t take yourself too serious: The image of Pope Francis paying his own hotel bill sits on my mind. He’s the Pope, and he’s waiting in line at the Holiday Inn. A little humility can go a long way. Professionalism and approachability should not be mutually exclusive. People like a good laugh, and its ok to laugh at yourself. If you must be referred to has “Mr ABC” then do it. But allowing others to feel a little closer by using a first name can do a lot to build initial trust and likability. Approach every interaction as an opportunity for humility. Laugh a little. Find an opportunity to make the other person feel comfortable. This may mean offering a glass of water, or offering to wait a little longer if someone seems flustered at a meeting. Encourage others to be happy.
3. Don’t burst any bubbles: Bursting someone’s bubble is similar to “one upping” from number one. The difference is here you are not allowing the other person to complettly enjoy a moment by actively putting a needle into the bubble and popping it. Remember, you don’t always have to be right, even if you are right. Sometimes it is just nice to let the other person feel good by letting him feel good or steering him toward a solution and feeling the glory. Be careful here to pick and choose wisely as we don’t want to give someone a false sense of security over big issues they should be challenged with. If however, someone gave you their “secret” short cut, and it wasn’t all that great, maybe you can let them feel like they helped. The point is to not make the other person feel bad. Push your ego to the side and let others keep their warm and fuzzy.
4. Please and Thank You: Wow! How simple is this. Remember always, always, always, say please and thank you. There is never a wrong time to have good manners. Please and thank you with the person your meeting with at Starbucks as well as the barista who serves you coffee is a sure way to be nice. I was out to dinner with a young lady once (she didn’t get a second dinner). She was polite with me, but repeatedly rude to the waitress. Nothing is more off putting than someone who simply cannot stop and say thank you. Trust me here, make a concerted effort to always, always, always use please and thank you. This will force you to slow down and be nice. The payoff will be huge. Perhaps, ladies, you will get a second dinner invitation from your male suitor.
5. Be Present in the moment: This is the most challenging for many of us in the age of technology. We are texting, tweeting, blogging, face booking and any other “ing” you can think of. We are doing this while driving (not me of course), eating dinner, doing kid’ homework, laying in bed, cleaning, bathing (ok maybe not bathing), and any other time when we should be present with the person we are trying to be nice to. It is rude, rude, rude, to be paying attention to anyone other than with whomever we are sharing a moment. I have to force myself to not be distracted by baseball on TV. I will either let it be known I’m checking out for a while or I turn off the game. If i’m in public such as a hotel lobby with a game on TV, I will do my best to face the opposite direction. Baseball is kryptonite to my attention span. What is yours? Be very aware of the moment and don’t be taken away.
There you have it folks. No giant volumes. No weekend seminars. Keep it simple. I’ve been guilty of violating all of these at times. How have you faired at being nice?