Be Nice

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Rachel Pine was flying from Los Angeles to New York City.  She noticed that the flight crew looked unusually harried.

When the flight attendant came by to see if she had fastened her seatbelt, Rachel reached into her package of Fig Newtons.

“Would you like one?” she asked.

The flight attendant gratefully received the snack.  Rachel recalls that she almost seemed on the verge of tears.

A few minutes later the attendant returned.  She said to Rachel:  “You have no idea what our last flight was like.  If just one passenger had been like you, it would have been bearable.”

“And by the way,” she mentioned to Rachel, “there’s an open seat in first class.  Would you like to have it?”

Such is the power of one Fig Newton.  Actually, such is the power of kindness – of choosing to be nice.

In their slim volume The Power of Nice, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval acknowledge that “nice has an image problem.  Nice gets no respect.  To be labeled ‘nice’ usually means the other person has little else positive to say about you… Let us be clear:  Nice is not naïve… In fact, we would argue that nice is the toughest four-letter word you’ll ever hear.”

Thaler and Koval cite statistics that nice people enjoy longer and stronger relationships.  Studies also confirm that for every 2% positive uptick in a company’s service climate, there is a 1% increase in revenue.

Research demonstrates that nice people live longer (despite their apparent fondness for Fig Newtons). 

And author Malcom Gladwell cites a study that correlates the niceness of physicians with a lowered likelihood of being sued.  Doctors who have never been sued turn out to be those who spend an average of three minutes longer with each patient, compared to doctors who have been sued twice or more.  People tend not to want to drag into court people who have been nice to them.

The apostle Paul writes:  “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

In other words, choose to be kind.  Choose to be gracious. 

For goodness’ sake and God’s sake, be nice.

You may not end up sitting in first class.  But you may be the one person who turns somebody else’s lousy day into a hopeful one.