My husband and I tried a new restaurant the other night, and at first, we liked it very much. Our waitress was friendly and knowledgable, the food was very good, and the atmosphere was great, as long as you ignored the young man in the chef’s jacket who occasionally wandered around the dining room, scowling at everything and everyone he saw. After we had paid our bill, we stopped in the bar area to watch the last inning of the Cardinal game on the TV, and my husband chatted briefly with a few people who were also watching the game. It all seemed friendly enough until the guy in the chef’s jacket walked by, rolled his eyes at us and muttered something under his breath. I couldn’t catch exactly what he said, but I certainly caught that it wasn’t anything nice.
I thought it was odd that a restaurant would employ someone who was so surly to its customers until I checked its website and discovered that the man was actually a co-owner. And that’s too bad, because even though we really liked the food and atmosphere at his restaurant, the co-owner’s rude behavior made such a bad impression that I doubt seriously if we will ever go back. Maybe he was having a bad day, or maybe he was annoyed because his restaurant was only half full, or maybe he was offended that we were simply standing in the bar, watching the game, rather than ordering more drinks. I honestly don’t know. But I do know that, if he had just made the effort to be even a little bit nice, we would definitely have been repeat customers.
Because being nice matters. If we want people to shop at our stores, eat at our restaurants, join in our groups, help our causes, and or simply be our friends, we have to be nice to them. If we want to draw people to us, we have to show them the same common decency and courtesy that we want others to show us. Rudeness, anger and hostility, even when we believe it’s justified, does nothing more than drive people away. Always has and always will.
I believe that something as simple as being nice can help build the bridges that are so desperately needed to help people with different values and beliefs connect and communicate. I know I am always willing to listen to someone else’s point of view, even a point of view that I believe is absolutely wrong, as long as the speaker isn’t resorting to ridicule or verbal attacks to make his or her point. Being nice doesn’t mean not being passionate about our beliefs; it just means not using our beliefs as an excuse to be cruel to people who don’t happen to share them.
Being nice is about connecting with other people. It’s about living peacefully with those who are different from us. It’s about creating a life for ourselves full of interesting and diverse people who can support us, our families, our businesses, our causes, etc., if we can just remember to treat them the same way we want to be treated. We all lose our tempers sometimes, and we all have our bad days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t always, always try to do better. So please, let’s just be nice……