You’ve probably heard the phrase “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” You might have heard this from your grandmother if you were overreacting to a request as a child. She actually meant that you’ll have a more positive response if you’re pleasant instead of cranky.
Perhaps we should remind ourselves of Grandma’s wisdom more often. How many times have you seen a co-worker treat someone with unpleasant behavior? How do you feel if your spouse or partner is unkind toward a server when you’re at a nice restaurant? How do you respond when a stranger glares at you when you’re child misbehaves?
In the book, “The Power of Nice,” the authors advise us to “exercise our niceness muscles.” Start smiling at strangers, say thank you to others, and start up a conversation by complimenting someone. In other words, be nice!
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to change our outward attitude, but it certainly makes our environment a better place. Not only will it make your day more pleasant, but also it could help you in your career.
Rohit Bhargava, in his book, “Likeonomics,” writes “people trust and choose to believe people they like.” If you’re talking to your coworker with a scowl on your face, how likable are you? People will support you and want to help you more if you are nice to be around.
Recently a professional driver backed into the dock and exited her truck. The forklift driver had been having a rough day and decided to take his lunch break instead of starting to load the trailer. She had two options: she could wait for an hour and lose valuable time, or she could smile and politely ask the dock worker if he’d load the pallets so she could be on her way. It sounds simple enough, but how many drivers assume the worst and berate the forklift driver?
How many of us blame the person behind the counter for the slow service instead of empathizing with him because he’s alone and there are six people in line? Do you get frustrated with the waitress if she forgets to bring your glass of water, even though you’ve asked twice? Sure, but remember what Grandma said about honey?
After a frustrating situation caused by a colleague’s actions that appeared to challenge my authority, I ranted to a friend. She advised me to, “assume good intent.” She suggested that he had my best interests in mind and acted in a way that he felt was supportive. Wow! That was a different angle that I hadn’t considered. I decided to use this as a reminder that things are not always as they appear to us.
When we assume good intent, it gives us a new perspective on other people’s actions. Instead of thinking the clerk is incompetent, treat him as if he wants to sell you the items and get you on your way. Don’t assume the waitress is purposely ignoring you; maybe she’s distracted by work or family issues. Really, she does want you to enjoy your meal.
We can agree that we truly WANT to be liked, and that it doesn’t mean we’re insecure. Bhargava claims we have a fundamental human need to be liked because of our need to form relationships. Since our brains are wired this way, not being liked can have negative affects on us.
If this is true, why do some of us walk around as if we have a chip on our shoulder? Many of us have a sense of entitlement and act as if we are “owed” something from others. This doesn’t promote like-ability, so if you feel entitled, get over it. You’re not that special.
For others, being a victim is easier than taking control of your circumstances and presenting a positive appearance. A victim is a helpless person, so the only way to change a victim’s attitude is to help them feel empowered and in control. Smiling is a great way to change the way others treat you, so turn the corners of your mouth upward and watch the effect you’ll have on people you encounter.
Try being nice, at least for one day. Give compliments, smile at everyone you meet, and be approachable and friendly. See if it makes a difference in the way your friends, family, and coworkers treat you. Maybe Grandma was right about catching flies with honey!
By Ellen Voie