Life lessons: The importance of being nice

By in Opinions

We have all come across events that have forced us to plaster on a smile and exchange pleasantries when we don’t want to. In university, it is to our best advantage to do this, no matter our true feelings.

Growing up it was engrained in our minds and behaviour to be nice. This lesson has many implications in university life. How many times have we as students sent out a mass email to our classmates, hoping to find a kind soul to share their notes from that class we missed?

Flash forward several months later and that same student who previously shared their notes is asking you for yours. If your initial thought is to ignore the email, stop. Someone was kind enough toBeing Nice - Jeremy Britz share their notes with you, so out of courtesy you should do the same.

If you don’t, to put it frankly, you’re being a jerk. You’re labelling yourself as someone who takes but doesn’t give. In a world where everyone should work together, this is not something that’s going to earn you any brownie points.

Yet displaying kindness isn’t just important inside the classroom. Taking a few extra seconds to hold open the door for the person behind you or not blocking a hallway during the 10 minutes between classes may seem like minute details, but that can be the first impression someone has of you. As we all know, first impressions are lasting impressions.

Although it doesn’t seem like it, even listening to someone is a form of kindness. Listening to your professors, colleagues or peers talk — especially about something that isn’t of interest to you — may sound tedious, but being able to remain attentive is an important skill.

To this person you are — even if somewhat unwillingly — displaying an interest in their discussion. This can make all the difference to a person. Their day may become slightly better thanks to your kindness.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to listen to every single person you encounter whenever the opportunity arises. When you do get caught up in a conversation that you simply cannot take part in for whatever reason, do the polite thing.

If it’s someone’s pitch in the Arts Tunnel, politely say you’re not interested. If a friend or colleague is dying to tell you something but you simply can’t talk at that moment, politely explain your situation and suggest another time. There is no need to be rude.

Once your kindness has helped someone else, it may be beneficial to you as well. Imagine you’re about to give a job interview. On your way to work you witness someone becoming increasingly rude to other people around them for no reason whatsoever.

When your interviewee comes in, you realize it’s the person you witnessed being rude earlier. Despite their many qualifications, what you witnessed earlier has left a sour taste in your mouth and leaves you feeling a bit reluctant to hire them.

Although everyone will have bad days every now and then, practice self-discipline and don’t take your negative feelings out on others. You never know who may be listening, watching or how they may one day become critical in your future endeavours. Even though being nice isn’t the nicest thing, that extra smile can go miles.

Image: Jeremy Britz / Graphics Editor