How to Be a Nicer Person
Being a nice person is one of the surest ways to make a difference in the world and make it a better place. People who are nice have more friends, they are more influential, and they inspire others by leading by example. Their deeds and words demonstrate their care and concern for others and the world at large. If we are nice, not only do we make others happy, we also become happier ourselves. We become bright beacons that radiate love, kindness and compassion. It is a powerful way to be.
But how do we become nicer people? What are some of the traits of nice people that we can adopt and emulate? Here are some simple but effective things all of us can do:
Learn to Really Listen
Too many people in this world are bad listeners. They would much rather talk than listen to others. We all know people who match this description. When someone else is speaking, it is obvious that they are not paying attention and really listening. In fact, many people are eager for the other person to finish speaking because they are eager to offer their own point of view. Nice people place more weight on the ability to truly listen to others without interrupting or needing to counter what was said. They pay attention to what someone else is saying because they recognize that it is important to that person.
Talk About Yourself Less
Many people love the sound of our own voice. They like to dominate a conversation and talk about themselves rather than listen attentively and evaluate what others are saying. They love to make themselves the center of a conversation because it makes them feel important. Anything that someone else says is retorted in a hurry. They do not allow others equal spotlight time and would rather have the attention on themselves. If someone else is talking about their brief vacation in France, these people interrupt and insist on talking about their trip to Europe and Africa! Nice people, on the other hand, allow others to steal the spotlight often because they know that it makes them feel good. They also do not have an inherent need to shine or to be under the spotlight because they are secure with themselves and their beliefs. They are aware that empty vessels make the most noise. If we want to be nicer, we should speak less about ourselves and our interests and focus more on others. Of course, it is perfectly alright to talk about ourselves and offer our views, but it needs to be done in moderation.
Be Genuinely Interested in the Views and Well-Being of Others
In order to talk less about ourselves and become good listeners, we need to be sincerely interested in how others feel and think. Nice people really do care about the feelings and welfare of others; it is not an act. Ask others about their lives and listen attentively when they speak. This is where empathy and compassion come in. People who are nice do not take interest in others for self-gain. Their interest stems from true love and concern.
Respect the Views of Others
In this world, people will always have different viewpoints on different topics, and nice people understand and honor that. They do not have the need to be constantly right as many others do. One of the ways to be nicer is to really respect the views of others, even if they contradict our own. We can recognize that diversity is perfectly healthy and normal. We do not have to acquiesce to the demands of others, but we can exhibit respect and tolerance.
Do Not Boast, Have Humility
People who are nice refrain from constantly tooting their own horn in order to be noticed, liked, or respected. They stay humble and do not boast about their accomplishments. Nobody likes to be around a braggart who needs to tell the whole world how superior he or she is. All of us know someone who fits that bill and it is likely that we take what they say with a grain of salt. If we want to be nicer, it is important that we stay humble and do not boast about ourselves.
Do Not Exaggerate or Embellish
Another way to be nice is to refrain from exaggeration and embellishment. Nobody likes to be around a person who stretches the truth. Our words are not merely words. They reflect our thoughts and that is why we need to be careful not to misrepresent the truth. Nice people do not exaggerate or embellish with their words, especially pertaining to their own achievements.
Do Not Be Cynical or Critical
Most nice people are optimistic and nonjudgmental. As a result, they have a large circle of friends because people like being in their company. Nobody enjoys being around someone who is overly suspicious and critical of everything and everyone. Being able to accept others for who they are is a wonderful trait to have. It does not mean we have to agree with everything. It just means that we are less judgemental and let things be as they are (unless, of course, they are detrimental to our well-being). All of us know someone who is highly critical. People like that are generally also unhappy most of the time.
Quit Complaining Incessantly
Some of the nicest people I know are true optimists and their words are almost always kind and positive. On the other hand, some people have the habit of complaining most of the time. They complain about the weather, about other people, about their sad predicaments, and about life in general. They seem to sap the energy out of you with all their negativity. Unless we are equally negative and love to complain, too (birds of a feather flock together), we generally find these people taxing to be around. Nice people, however, do not complain and take responsibility for their lives. Things do not always work out the way we hope for and it is part of life. If we want to be nicer, we should stop complaining.
Learn to See Goodness and Compliment Others
One of the ways to be nice is to make an effort to detect the goodness in others and to compliment them for it. Reality is a matter of perspective. Everyone has value and good traits. Our job is to notice them rather than be critical and cynical. Everyone loves to be patted on the back when they deserve it and paying others compliments when due is a way to brighten their day, and ours.
Do Not Make Jokes About Other People
Having a sense of humor is a wonderful quality to possess. However, making jokes about other people is not the way to manifest that. We may think that we are being funny, but when we joke about others, it is often ill-received and hurtful, even if the other person does not voice it. It is good to be funny, but it is also important to be sensitive to the feelings of others.
Be Able to Laugh at Yourself Instead
Rather than joke about others, nice people possess the ability to make jokes about themselves. They are able to take themselves lightly and laugh at their imperfections. In fact, being able to poke fun at ourselves is a wonderful way to be humble and make others feel comfortable around us. The next time you want to joke about someone else, turn that focus around.
Skip the Gossip and Slander
If you want to be nicer, refrain from gossiping about and slandering others. Nobody likes to be gossiped about or slandered, yet many people spend hours doing exactly that. Not only is it a waste of precious time and highly negative, it also is hurtful. When others are guilty of gossip, you can walk away, express your disapproval, or simply refrain from joining them.
Time is the most precious asset we possess, and nice people are respectful of that. When you are meeting someone, regardless of the situation, it is important to be on time. Tardiness shows a lack of respect for other people’s time and it annoys almost everyone. Granted, we all have the occasional emergency or situation that causes us to be late. However, these occurrences should be far and few in between, especially if we plan accordingly.
Learn to Apologize Sincerely and Freely When Wrong
Nobody is perfect and it is important to recognize our own faults. If you want to be nicer, it is important to apologize sincerely and acknowledge when you do wrong. Other people notice it when you are contrite and they are much more willing to forgive as a result. In fact, apologizing readily demonstrates that we recognize our humanness and that is an endearing quality to have.
Smile and Laugh More Often
Smiling and laughing are universal signs of happiness and friendliness. Every culture expresses their joy this way. One way to be nicer is to remember to smile and laugh often because happy people are a joy to be around. When you laugh and smile, it is contagious so you also spread that happiness to others. Most of us know someone who is constantly melancholy. They express this by not smiling or laughing often, and this, too, is contagious.
Remember the Names of Other People
As it has commonly been said, there is nothing sweeter than the sound of your own name. One way to be a nicer person is to remember this fact and make an effort to remember the names of others. It shows that you consider them to be important. Repeating the name of someone you meet in your head a few times will certainly help. Another good method is to associate that person’s name with someone famous. No matter what method you prefer, it is important to be fully present and focused on what the other person is saying.
Be Fully Present and Involved When You Are With others
As we mentioned before, time is our most valuable asset so it also is the most precious gift you can give to another person. Nice people give others their full attention because they genuinely care about others. There is nothing worse than having lunch with someone who is constantly checking their phone or is constantly lost in thought. Give others your undivided attention, put your phone on silent, and enjoy the present moment. It will be noticed by others and go a really long way.
Do Not Forget to Say Please and Thank You
Being polite and having proper manners is a wonderful quality to possess, and it all starts with saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Many people forget to say these 2 magical words often enough. The best part is that it can be used frequently and in so many scenarios. Whether it is to the bank teller, your restaurant server, your friend, or your family members, make it a habit to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ often to demonstrate your gratitude and appreciation. It will make you a nicer person.
Have Proper Etiquette and Be Considerate
Another way to be a nicer person is to be polite and posses proper etiquette. Remember to open and hold the door for others, stand up when someone you are meeting arrives, wait for the other person’s food to arrive in a restaurant before you start eating, help an elderly person carry their groceries, etc. The gestures show others that you are a considerate person who cares about them.
Appropriate Time for Others and Help Them
Many people are too busy with their own lives to recognize that there are others who need help. Giving others our precious time and help can be powerful. Nice people appropriate some of their time to help others. You could help a friend paint their bedroom, cook and give food away, counsel a teenager, volunteer your Saturdays at Habitat for Humanity, mow the neighbour’s yard, etc. These are random acts of kindness that anyone can do. You will be amazed what a difference it can make in someone else’s life.
Be Generous and Share What You Have
Many of us are more blessed and fortunate than we acknowledge. We fail to fully appreciate that our lives are better off than those of so many others. If you want to be a nicer person, it is important to be generous and share what you have with others. This does not require that you give everything you own away. What it does entail, however, is sharing a portion of what you posses with the less fortunate. Almost everyone will experience need and hardship in their lives, and this helps to remind us how meaningful it can be when we give to others. It does not always have to be significant. Little things do matter.
Be Encouraging With Others
If you want to be nicer, be encouraging with others. Most of us do not like being around someone who is negative, disparaging, and naysaying. On the flip side, we enjoy being around those who encourage us, motivate us, and make us better people. Our words can be powerful and we should use them to boost the wellbeing of others and give them hope. Be an optimist for others and for yourself and you will make a significant difference in this world. Help people to see their gifts, skills, and qualities. Kind words go a long way. If a friend expresses the desire to start exercising and lose weight, for example, offer your support. If someone tells you that they are thinking of going back to college to get a degree, encourage them with your words.
Do Not Give Advice Unless It Is Requested
Most of us love the sound of our own voice, and we are quick to render advice to others. The problem is that if this advice has not been asked for, it frequently causes offence to the other party. We might think we know what’s best for the other person, but this is often not the case. In fact, we often offer advice to others when we do not practice what we preach. Furthermore, we do not always know the circumstances that the other person is experiencing, meaning that we are ill-fit to give advice. Of course, if someone does request advice from us, we should oblige. It should also be positive and encouraging. But people who are nice do not go around constantly disseminating advice when it is not solicited.
Do Not Tell Someone That They Should Have Listened, Even if They Did Not
One of the worst things we can say to another is, “I told you so”. This only serves to make ourselves feel better and serves no purpose for the other person. Even if someone neglects advice that you gave them and suffered the consequences for it, it makes no sense to tell them that they should have listened to you. That is tantamount to rubbing salt in their wounds. If you gave somebody good advice and they failed to heed it, they will remember it. There is no need to remind them to boost your ego.
Have Self-Love: What Others Think of You is None of Your Business
Many people are overly sensitive to the opinions and criticisms of others. Their entire day can be ruined because someone else criticized them. Learn to love yourself unconditionally and develop self-love. This will free you from the judgement of others. If you truly love yourself, it makes no difference what others think or say. People who are nice recognize this and are immune to the opinions of others. This avoids unnecessary anger and confrontation. After all, you cannot control what others say or think. You can only control how you view yourself. Life is too short so be nice to yourself and others.
Make the Effort to Write Complimentary and Thank You Cards, Emails and Notes
When we take the time to write a note to someone, it shows that we care enough to make the time and effort to do so. Nice people recognize the power of writing a note that is complimentary or that expresses gratitude. It is especially easy to do given how ‘connected’ we are today with existing technology. Write to someone and tell them you love them and are grateful for what they have done. It goes a long way in making others feel special.
Show Affection to Others
People who are nice are also warm and loving human beings. One way they demonstrate their love and care for others is by being affectionate. When appropriate, they hug, kiss, shake hands, or simply pat someone on the back. Of course, it is important to be affectionate in the right circumstances and not be overly ‘touchy’ with others, but, when done right, affection is a great way to bond with others and show them that you genuinely care. In fact, studies have shown that displaying affection can actually increase oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) and lower blood pressure!
Learn About Other Cultures
This world is so large with so many different cultures. We are becoming increasingly exposed to these different cultures and they are, in turn, being exposed to our own. If you want to be a nicer person, it helps to learn about the different norms and practices of prevalence in this world. What this does is to help us understand other people and bridge the divide. It also teaches us that, in essence, all of us have the same fears, wants and needs. Learn to speak another language, try ethnic foods that are foreign to you, read about different religions and countries. It makes you a more understanding person and it shows that you respect diversity.
Be Gentle and Slow to Anger
Some of the nicest people in the world are also gentle in nature and extremely slow to anger. They exude a certain calmness that is evident to everyone around them. They do not get into quarrels and fights unnecessarily. Antagonism is not part of their repertoire. If you want to be nicer, be gentle with your words and actions. Adopt a disposition of equanimity and kindness which is a trait that everyone respects.
Learn About the Interests and Hobbies of Others
All of us have different interests and hobbies. Nice people make the effort to learn about the interests and hobbies of others. By making this effort, you are showing others that you respect them and their passions. For example, if your friend tells you about a great book she just read, review the book on Amazon and read it so that you learn something new. If someone you know enjoys hiking, try going on a hike with him. You do not necessarily have to like the exact same things, but it is good to try it to find out. It also helps you understand the other person better. This also makes the other person more likely to take an interest in your own hobbies and activities.
If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything
In the event that you do not have something nice to say to someone, the best thing you can do is to refrain from saying anything at all. There is no need to be a hypocrite and force compliments, but, at the very least, know that it is best to not saying anything. Nice people do not approve of or like everything and everyone in this world. But they know it is best to hold their tongue in such instances.
Have Empathy for Others
The dictionary defines the word Empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. As written about in the famous book, To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Nice people are empathetic and sensitive to the feelings and plight of others. They are slow to judge and quick to try to understand.
Tell Others How Much You Appreciate Them
Many people fail to tell those whom they like or love just how much they appreciate them. In fact, sometimes we fail to tell the very people we truly love and value how grateful we are that they are in our lives. Reach out and tell your family members and friends that they are valued and cherished. It is a really nice thing to do. Do not assume that they know how you feel.
Do Not Be Nice for Individual Gain or Benefit
Finally, it is important that we be nice simply for the sake of it. Do not be nice because you stand to gain or expect something in return. Our reward for being nice is being happier and more at peace. People notice insincerity from a distance. Be genuine and sincere because that will encourage more people to be like you. You will make this a much nicer world!
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