This isn’t some mushy blog post about how being nice to people makes you feel good (it does, btw). It also isn’t some philosophical mumbo-jumbo about the nature of the Universe. This is about complete and total self-interest, that also happens to help other people. Being nice offers real, tangible benefits for you, as well as intangible benefits for others. But since this post is about complete and total self-interest, we’re going to ignore the benefits to others (for now. But really, if you’ve read any of my other blog posts you know that my style tends to be a bit…bouncy. Just because I start somewhere doesn’t mean I end up where we’d expect).
So what the heck am I talking about, and how could being nice help me? Tangibly (Huh. I wasn’t entirely sure that was a word. I’m always pleasantly surprised when an uncertain word comes back without the “red line” beneath it. Today is going to be a good day! Where was I? Right. Tangibly.). I need an MRI for my neck (why?), and scheduling of such a thing can take weeks and weeks. Now, “weeks” when you’re in pain is a long time. I don’t want to wait weeks. So I call on Tuesday and talk to the scheduler (Carrie). I am super nice and upbeat. Cheery, even. I schmoozed her. But I’ve got to be honest: Carrie was awesome. Sure, she started out gruff and all professional. The old “Let’s get this done, I have a million other patients to deal with” attitude. Can’t blame her! I was on hold for 10 minutes waiting for help. They’re ALWAYS busy. But in the face of my cheery self she loosens up and finds me a date of March 1st. No, sorry, there’s no cancellation list where they’ll call you if someone else cancels. I should call back every morning to check. No problem, Carrie, thanks so much for your help! Seriously, a week and a half isn’t too bad! Not what I wanted, but C’est la vie.
And that’s where the benefits start kicking in. Because you know what? People WANT to help people who make them feel good. Because that ALSO feels good (yup, already made the first sentence of this post into a lie. Deal with it.). So anyway, Carrie says, “You know what? I’ll keep your name and number next to me here for the rest of the day and if someone cancels I’ll give you a call.” Carrie’s the best. We hang up and frankly, I’m not expecting any calls. Come on, she’s busy!
About 15 minutes later my phone rings. It’s Carrie, laughing because literally the call right after mine was a cancellation, and do I want to come in on the 27th. Heck yeah I do! Lots of thanks and emphasis that she is appreciated. Boom, I’m in 2 days earlier (remember, when you’re in pain every day is an eternity. So technically, I’m 2 eternities better off!). Life is good! Also, she’s feeling great because her normally “standard” day is suddenly just a tiny bit different, and better. I could hear the smile on her face. It felt great.
Anyway, I’m going about my business when about an hour later my phone rings again. It’s Carrie! HI CARRIE! She just had another cancellation and do I want it? It’s for the 22nd, this Thursday (now today, as I’m writing this). HECK YEAH I WANT IT! THANKS CARRIE; YOU’RE THE BEST! Bi-directional happiness ensues.
So what did we learn? Being nice to people has tangible benefits. I get my MRI a full week earlier, which means I can make my neurosurgery appointment earlier. Which means we can solve my neck problems sooner. Which would be so awesome. So, so awesome.
And this isn’t my only story. These go on and on. In another soon-to-be- written post you’ll read about how being nice via email to customer service reps can help fix your gross stupidity in letting airline ticket vouchers expire a month before you tried to use them (Sorry Dad. You were right, I was wrong. You’re smart, and I’m dumb. You’re very good looking, and I’m not good looking at all. Fortunately, we’re all good now!).
I know some people are reading this and saying, “He’s only faking being nice to get something.” To that I respond: That’s not true. I’m a nice person most of the time. But regardless, IT DOESN’T MATTER. If you act nice, you are nice. Nobody knows what’s in your head. You could be thinking about horrible, terrible things. Nobody is affected by what’s in your head; people only know you by the actions you take. BE NICE. If you won’t listen to me, listen to the late, great, Patrick Swayze.
How will you know when it’s time to not be nice? You won’t, Dalton will tell you. Also, if you don’t know this quote, then go watch Roadhouse. That movie is amazing. But seriously, just be nice all the time. My mom has similar wisdom, “Kill them with kindness.” Be nice.
Thanks for reading! And since you’re all awesome, I know you’ll share that awesomeness with everyone else (see what I did there? I was nice, and now you want to tell people about my blog! Seriously, tell people about my blog.).
Living the Dream,