“Hey! Do you remember me? I work at your bank; I helped you set up your account a few weeks ago…”
I was sitting in front of my computer with a self-satisfied smile. All I did was open a bank account and the cute manager found me on Facebook to arrange a date herself.
What makes the situation ironic is this: earlier that day, I was thinking about how easy it is to be liked in everyday situations.
The secret is something I learned from a childhood friend who seemed to get along with everyone in our neighbourhood: courtesy.
I don’t work hard to win anyone over; hell, I don’t even care what people think of me. And yet I get good seats at restaurants, extra syrup on diner pancakes and smiles from strangers.
In a world where people don’t give a shit about each other, it’s amazing how far you can get with a little respect and warmth.
Why You Should Treat Others Well
When you treat other people well, they feel great about themselves – and you!
That’s what makes courtesy so powerful.
There’s no need to be super-formal: just have some consideration for others. A simple smile and a “How are you?” will already set you apart from most people. So set a minimal standard for yourself and meet it in all your interactions.
I say hello, smile and listen to everyone I meet. Everyone: the cleaning lady at work, the barista at Starbucks, the taxi driver taking me home. Even if I’m in a shitty mood, I will do those 3 things: that’s my bottom line.
You might have different standards for yourself; it doesn’t matter, so long as you always remember to treat others with a certain amount of consideration.
For starters, just try greeting and smiling at the people you meet in everyday life – the pizza delivery guy, the postman, etc. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes to others, and how much better they start treating you.
How Not to Be Fake
There’s a fine line between being polite and kissing ass.
People who get liked are courteous, but not too familiar or overbearing. Don’t try to make friends with every single person you meet; that just screams “phony.”
Don’t say things you don’t mean, either. Compliment your neighbor’s hideous sweater or ask her how she’s doing when you don’t really care, and you risk:
- Coming across as fake.
- Wasting your time on hearing things you don’t wanna hear.
If you don’t feel like talking to someone, just fall back to your bare minimum: say “Hello,” smile and keep it moving.
Being Nice Builds Your Reputation
Here’s another benefit of being polite to people – you’ll benefit from being on good terms with the people around you.
Situation A – you walk into the local Starbucks with tense body language and a glare; stand in the queue; make your order and notice a cute girl. You decide to talk to her.
Situation B – you walk into the local Starbucks and high-five the baristas. One of them asks: “The usual?” You nod and start chatting away with the regulars. You take your order and notice a cute girl you decide to talk to.
In Situation B, you have a huge advantage before you say anything. Treating others well gives you social proof and makes you look good: new people will think more highly of you by default.
When This Doesn’t Work
These are the guidelines for being on good terms with people you meet in everyday situations – at the coffee shop, bank, supermarket, etc. It does not apply to people you know more intimately.
The girl from the bank messaged me because I made her day when we were filling out forms. A big part of that was me being considerate – many of the bank’s clients are jerks to her. But if I keep being nice all the time, she’ll lose interest quickly.
Got any cool stories about the power of courtesy?