Sunday, 17 April 2016

Does being 'nice' get you anywhere?

       It all depends where you want to go.

       Columnist Liz Jones* believes niceness gets you nowhere, citing several unpleasant experiences she’s had of late with ungrateful and uncaring people. Sadly, the world’s like that. Not so much ‘do as you would be done by’ as ‘do others down before they do you!’

       Yet I firmly believe that true niceness gets results. My daughter (who despite being extremely nice is certainly no pushover), works for a building society and, as you can imagine, receives her fair share of complaints. Many customers are indignant and some are downright nasty, but is she phased by this abuse? Not on your life! The worse they are and the more they rant and rave about their overdraft/failed payment/interest rate or whatever, the calmer and more intractable my girl becomes until even the most determined plaintiff slams the phone down in defeat, exhausted and a good deal poorer!

       On the other hand, a customer who is apologetic for their error (in banking, the customer is rarely right!), is reasonable and nice gets 5-star treatment. In fact, my daughter will go out of her way to help them, even persuading the powers-that-be to reduce or drop any penalties.

       None of us are perfect, of course, and however hard I try to be a nice person, I’ve had my moments. Impatience, pride, anger, envy, resentment and sheer selfishness can influence us all at times, while the world we live in seems to foster such negative traits. No matter who or where we are, there will always be challenges from others and, when slighted, insulted or faced with aggression, it takes huge self-control not to retaliate, to keep one’s cool. To be nice.

       But does being nice, as Liz may argue, simply get you trampled on? It depends what you mean by nice. According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘nice’ has 3 meanings: 1) ‘good natured, kind’ 2) ‘subtle, slight’ 3) ‘fastidious, scrupulous’.  For me, however, there can be no better description of all round niceness than Galatians 5:22 which lists the spiritual fruitage of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control." Far from being weak, such qualities can have a powerful and positive effect. 

       With so much violence, selfishness, haughtiness, pride and greed surrounding us, it may seem easier to follow the crowd, but please! don’t go that way! Don’t let this horrible world grind you into its mould. And don’t let anyone stop you being NICE!

The Book of Proverbs by King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, highlights some nice benefits:  

“An answer when mild turns away rage”

“A mild tongue itself can break a bone”
“He that is slow to anger (patient) is better than a mighty man”

“All his spirit is what a stupid one lets out, but he that is wise keeps it calm to the last.”

“The one who is slow to anger has great discernment, but the impatient one displays his foolishness.

“The desirable thing in earthling man is his loving-kindness,” 

“The goodness of the righteous makes a city rejoice”

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