Just be nice. When you’re working to build relationships, you can never go wrong by showing some basic respect, decency and empathy. It’s pretty easy to be nice when the sun is shining, you’re in a good mood, and you’re surrounded by people whose company you enjoy. But being nice can be hard work when you’re frustrated, angry or dealing with someone with a very unfortunate personality. Navigating those moments is never easy, but with a bit of effort you can emerge with your reputation intact and maybe spark a new relationship in the process.
It All Starts with a Bit of Perspective
One of the easiest ways to flip the script on a frustrating situation is to consider the other person’s point of view, where they’re coming from, and why they feel the way they do. Easier said than done, to be sure, but it’s a learned skill. The more you do it, the more it becomes a normal part of your process for dealing with challenging people or situations.
While it can be hard to stay calm in a frustrating situation, finding common ground is usually easier than you think. The truth is that we all deal with many of the same frustrations, even if they take different forms. You don’t have to like having someone’s frustration taken out on you, but if you boil things down, there’s a good chance you can relate to what they’re going through.
If you’ve never seen Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on the Golden Circle, I’d highly recommend it. He talks about the way great leaders motivate their followers by first explaining why they’re doing something, rather than just laying out what they’re doing. The same basic idea applies in reverse. If you can understand why a person feels the way they do, you have a much better chance of motivating them to do what you want them to do, or helping them resolve a challenge.
When Empathy Isn’t Enough
Empathy is ideal when you’re dealing with a normally level-headed person who’s going through a rough stretch, but significantly less useful when you’re dealing with someone who’s just flat-out miserable. These are the types who are unlikely to be swayed by your positive nature or your empathetic tone. They’re just looking for someone to be mad at. Unfortunately, you can find yourself in their cross-hairs.
These moments will test the patience of even the most positive personalities among us, and there’s no easy way to resolve them. Sometimes, it pays to treat miserable people as if they’re actually acting friendly, even if it takes everything in you not to dump a glass of ice water on their head from across the meeting table. They’re looking to provoke a reaction, and greeting their verbal jabs with a smile is the best way to show them that you’re not willing to play their game.
Being nice is not automatic; for most of us it takes some work to stay calm in the face of a frustrating interaction. However, it’s worth it. When you’re home at the end of another successful day, comfortable and in the company of people you enjoy, you can sit back and smile about how you handled that rude fool who failed to ruin your day… AND how you made is day a little bit better. It’s good for your business, and even better for your sanity. #JustBeNice