A few weeks ago, I decided to start a worldwide revolution right here on this blog. Yep, you read that last sentence correctly. I know that sounds pretty ambitious, but believe me, it had to be done.
If you missed it, the goal of this revolution (and my lifelong dream) is simple:
I want to make the world a nicer place for all of us.
And in the hopes of speeding this process along (seriously, I’m not trying to wait until I’m 90 years old to see this happen), I outlined exactly how we can make this revolution a reality in 3 simple steps.
However, on my way to the revolution, something very interesting happened.
I believed that the hardest part of the revolution would be Steps 2 & 3 of the plan, but I’m noticing that a lot people in the world are struggling with the first, and by far the easiest, step of the plan.
In case you missed it, here is Step 1 of the “Make the World a Nicer Place” plan:
Resolve to treat the people of this world with kindness, dignity, and respect always.
Not that you needed me to tell you this, but there are many people in the world who are nowhere close to getting past this step.
In fact, based on some of the horrific behavior that I have personally witnessed in the past couple of weeks, I felt inspired to write the post that you’re about to read.
Maybe this niceness stuff isn’t as easy as I thought?
No worries though.
It’s time for us to get back to basics, and always, I’m going to need your help big time in order to make it happen.
Below I’m going to break down Step 1 of the Make the World a Nicer Place plan by listing my “Top 15 Inarguable Ways” to make the world a nicer place for all of us.
I’ll admit, some of what you’re about to read may seem like common sense, but seriously, ask yourself this honestly:
Is common sense really all that common?
The sad truth is that what you’re about to read may be simple, but in reality, it isn’t happening nearly as often or consistently as it should.
Consider this post as my attempt to do something about it.
Of course, there is no way that I can come up with a completely comprehensive list on my own, so please feel free to fill in any gaps in the Niceness 101 Plan that I might have missed in the comments below.
And for the sake of clarity, the “you” that I’m referring to below isn’t “you” the reader. I’m talking to the figurative person who is in violation of these rules.
Let’s get to it, people!
1. Say “Please” and “Thank you” Consistently.
Besides being involved in a medical emergency or being the victim of an assault, there is absolutely no excuse not to say these things consistently. If you ask someone for something, say “please.” Once you receive it, say “thank you.” These are some of the very first things that we teach our kids as soon as they’re able to speak, for crying out loud. It’s shocking to me how many adults have forgotten this simple lesson.
And regardless of the lame excuses that you may have heard, no one is ever “too busy” to say these things.
2. Hold the Door Open.
Whenever you open a door, take a moment to look behind you to see if someone is right behind you. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a guy walk into a Starbucks and there was a woman with a baby stroller right behind him. I’m sure that he could have taken the 2 seconds to hold the door open for her, but instead, he just barged through the door, and allowed the door to slam in the face of the woman and her little baby who were both right behind him. Totally inexcusable, in my opinion.
All that it takes is a quick glance over your shoulder to see if someone is following right behind you, and if so, do the nice thing and hold the door open for him/her. It would only take 10-15 seconds of your time, tops. Who knows, you may end up making someone’s day in the process.
3. Cover Your Mouth/Nose Whenever You Cough or Sneeze.
Let’s be real–as someone who is currently working to get over bronchitis, I can confidently say that getting sick sucks. No one enjoys sniffling, coughing, and feeling worn down all day, right? That’s why it is an absolute must that we take the time not to spread that awfulness onto others. We can’t control when/if we’re going to cough and sneeze, but we can at least cover our mouths and/or nose when we do.
I went out to lunch last week, and there was a guy behind us who was coughing and sneezing up a storm, and the entire time he made absolutely no effort to cover his nose or mouth. Just so you know, I am the complete opposite of a germaphobe (I routinely eat food that I accidentally drop on the floor and share drinks with friends, and it hasn’t killed me yet), but it was like this dude was hell bent on spreading his flu to the entire restaurant.
Seriously, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze–it’s the nice thing to do. Also, on a side note, he was guilty of chewing his entire meal with his mouth wide open too, which admittedly has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of “niceness,” but I thought this would be a great place to randomly slide in a quick pet peeve of mine.
4. Say, “Excuse Me.”
“Excuse me” is such an incredibly versatile phrase, and that’s why it’s so confusing to me that it isn’t used more often. If you accidentally bump into someone, say “excuse me.” If you need to get someone’s attention, say “excuse me.” If you need to get past someone who may be accidentally blocking your path, say “excuse me.” If you’re in public and you let a bodily noise “slip past the goalie,” so to speak, say “excuse me.”
It’s the most versatile politeness phrase in the world. Use it.
5. Put Down the Damn Cell Phone.
I could seriously write an entire blog post on this topic, but I’ll do my best to keep it brief.
When someone is trying to have a conversation with you, give them your full attention and quit swiping through your phone. During meals with your family, on a date, or when you’re eating with anyone, leave it in your pocket/purse. Don’t use it while you’re in a movie theater, in a stall in a public restroom, or any other place where people can’t escape from hearing your conversation.
Seriously, the madness has to stop.
6. Watch Your Mouth.
In the spirit of full disclosure, there might not be anyone on this earth who enjoys a cleverly used curse word more than me. However, with that said, just like most things in life, it all comes down to two things: Time and place.
I’m definitely not against colorful language, but one thing that I am 100% against are people who do it at times that are wildly inappropriate, for example, in front of children. Seriously, stop that shit (yes, the irony of this sentence is not lost on me). As far as I’m concerned, people who can’t make it through a sentence without dropping multiple F-bombs aren’t “cool or edgy,” they just sound borderline illiterate and hopelessly stupid.
7. Show Up on Time.
If you’re expected to be somewhere at a particular time, then show up on time. If you’re running late, which is completely understandable, then make sure to let the person who is waiting for you aware of that fact. It’s the nice thing to do. Also on a related note, don’t be the guy/gal who constantly flakes out on plans at the last minute. No one likes that person.
8. Stop Interrupting.
During conversations, don’t be the person who consistently can’t control his/her urge to cut people off mid-sentence to deliver your “incredibly important” nugget of wisdom. Trust me, for the people on the other end of the conversation, it’s absolutely infuriating to be constantly interrupted. In a world where all of us have something to say, one of the nicest things that we can do is to be fullest present in a conversation by actively listening.
9. Apologize Quickly and Sincerely.
Somewhere along the way, people were led to believe that apologizing is a sign of weakness. For the life of me, I will never understand this. Nothing is further from the truth–in fact, it’s the exact opposite. Real strength is having the wisdom to admit when you’re wrong.
No one reading these words is perfect. We all make mistakes, usually on a daily basis. If you do something to hurt someone’s feelings (unintentionally or not), the nice thing to do is sincerely apologize. As I’ve said before, there’s nothing nice or cool about taking your bad days out on others–especially on the people who deserve it the least, like your family.
Your loved ones are not your emotional dumping ground, but if you happen to make that mistake, quickly apologize for it.
10. Show Gratitude.
I don’t know if there is anything nicer that we can do for each other than to show sincere gratitude on a consistent basis. Let’s be honest, we live in an appreciation-starved society. Taking the time to thank the people in our lives who have helped us in any way (whether it’s your best friend or the cashier at the grocery store) is one of the nicest things that we can do for another person.
11. Get Over the Road Rage.
Is there any place on earth where people lack kindness more than on the road? In an attempt to remedy this, here are a few things that all of us can do to make the roadways a much nicer place:
Give a quick wave/acknowledgement to someone who just allowed you to merge, remember that the left lane is for passing only (in other words, stay in the right lane, slow pokes), stop tailgating, don’t park your car in two parking spots, and most of all, don’t be a raging asshat who finds it necessary to lay on the horn if the car in front of you doesn’t move within .02 seconds of the light turning green.
12. Be a Team Player.
Simply put, choose to work with people and not against them. There’s nothing nice about stepping on people to get ahead, stealing credit from others, or creating mindless drama and disharmony just for the sake of doing it. You can choose to literally make the world a better place by consistently working with others in a spirit of mutual respect, kindness, and learning.
Just following this one step has the power to completely change the world.
13. Respect Other People’s Stuff.
If you’re visiting someone else’s home or borrowing someone’s stuff, treat it as well as you would treat your own stuff. And if you treat your own stuff like crap, then treat their stuff nicer than you would treat your own stuff.
14. Be an Epic Customer.
Do you plan on going shopping this holiday season? If so, read this first and make sure to follow it to a “T”: The 21 Inescapable Laws of Customer Epicness.
During the holiday season, there is nothing nicer that you can do for the retail employees who will have to deal with the absolute worst behavior that humanity has to offer for the next month and a half.
15. Don’t be an Asshole.
This one is pretty much a catch-all for anything that I missed. If you’ve heard from multiple people that you have an “attitude problem,” have been called a “bully,” or have been known to think that you’re somehow “better” than other people because of your income, race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or the car that you drive, chances are that you’re guilty of this point.
Creating a nicer world will be a much more challenging job as long as you and your asshat buddies continue with these shenanigans.
Knock it off.
Back to Basics
Like I said before, making this world a nicer place is going to take some serious work–and remember, all of this is only Step #1 of the 3-step plan to make this world a nicer place. This doesn’t even cover the two much more difficult steps of the process.
But even so, if all of us simply committed to mastering Step 1 of the process, we would see a noticeable difference in our world practically overnight.
This isn’t going to be easy, but I know that if you’ve read this entire list then you’re up for the challenge.
And for real, I need your help to make this dream of making a nicer world a reality.
You’re with me, right?
Man, I hope so.
It would be the nice thing to do.
Which one of these 15 Niceness tips resonated with you? Were you able to go 15-for-15? Did I miss anything from my list? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!