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How to Be Nice to People

Three Parts:Being Nice to People You Don't Know WellBeing Nice to the People You Care AboutBeing Nice to People Who Annoy You

It may not always be easy to be nice to people, especially when you're in a bad mood or are stuck with someone who annoys you. But if you make the effort to do the most basic things, like smiling, holding doors open for people, or asking people how they're doing, you'll be able to create a more pleasant environment for yourself and everyone around you. Not only will being nice to people make them respect you more, but it will also make your day sunnier! If you want to know how to be nice to people, see Step 1 to be on your way.

Part 1
Being Nice to People You Don't Know Well

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    Smile. Just the simple act of smiling can make you seem -- and feel -- like a nicer person. Whether you're smiling at strangers or people you know, it will also encourage people to smile back at you. Many people may think you're cold or not nice just because you're the kind of person who is a bit more shy and who doesn't smile as freely. So, the next time you pass someone you know a little bit, or even a perfect stranger, make a habit of smiling. Smiling will also make you feel happier, even if you're not in the best mood, so it's a win-win situation.
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    Introduce yourself to new people. If you're in a room with someone you don't know and everyone else seems to know each other, take the time to introduce yourself. If you've struck up a conversation with the person in line next to you at the coffee shop, introduce yourself when the time is right. This is a nice and polite gesture and can help break the ice. Just say something simple like, "Hi, I'm Joe, it's nice to meet you" and you'll get the ball rolling. Nice people tend to introduce themselves to others because they are excited about meeting new people.
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    Make small talk. Talk about small stuff that you know the person would be interested in. If you don't know the other person well enough to know about their preferences, try to talk about things happening around you. (The meeting you've both been to an hour ago, the new guy in Math class, the fantastic new shoes your colleague has been wearing, etc.) Incorporating humor always helps; people enjoy someone who can make them laugh or has a sense of humor and can understand them.
    • Don't be one of those people who thinks that small talk is meaningless and a waste of time. You have to start out with small talk to make meaningful connections with people.
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    Give a sincere compliment. Everyone loves compliments, so don't be afraid to say something positive about the other person. But be careful, though, not to flatter them too much. Too much flattery can give the impression that you are sucking up to them, and especially if this new friend is a superior, they will think of you as a lapdog. Just find something simple to compliment, like the person's sweater or a piece of jewelry that the person is wearing.
    • You can even use the compliment to strike up a conversation. Say something like, "I love your Lakers socks. Where did you get those?"
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    Make plans to hang out with someone you've met. If you've met a new person and things are going well, it would be nice to follow up and ask if the person wants to hang out. If it's a new friend, invite him or her to a low-pressure setting like a basketball game or a concert with friends, or a fun day with a few others at the park. You don't want to do anything too personal or private with someone you just met. Just exchange contact info, tell that person it was really nice to meet, and say that you're excited to hang out.
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    Be polite. You should be just as polite to strangers as you would be to your family members. That stranger you see at the coffee shop might be lonely, and you may be the only one they have talked to that day. Even if you're having a bad day, take the time to say "excuse me," to hold doors for people, and to treat people with a basic level of respect. Don't hog two seats on the bus and talk loudly on your cell phone; instead, be polite and offer someone else a seat.
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    Don't curse. This will make you look vulgar, rude, and definitely not nice. If people see you cursing and getting angry, they'll feed off of your negative vibe and won't want to be around you. The next time you're angry or feel like cursing, try to curse in your head or even to combat those curses by smiling instead.
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    Offer help. It's important to offer to help the people you see around you, whether it's a person with his arms full who can't open a door, a child who dropped a toy, or an elderly person who has difficulty walking. One day, you may need to rely on the kindness and help of a stranger, so you should get the good karma going while you can. This will definitely be a way of being nice to the people around you, and you'll feel better about yourself in the process.
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    Use people's names. People who you just meet love it when you use their names during or at the end of the conversation. Even if you only say that person's name once or twice, the person will feel special and like you're paying attention to him or her. Saying something like, "I know exactly what you mean, Eliza," or, "It's been nice to meet you, Eliza," can make people feel like you've taken the time to get to know them a little bit. Plus, this is a great trick to help you remember that person's name the next time you see him or her, which will also be very nice of you!
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    Do a small act of kindness. You don't have to only be kind to the people who are nearest and dearest to you. When you're shoveling the snow off your driveway, take the time to shovel the snow off your elderly neighbor's driveway, too. Let someone step ahead of you in line; put an extra dollar in the tip jar. Taking the time to do something nice for someone you don't know will make that person feel appreciated and will spread the good karma.
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    Avoid judgment. One thing that is definitely not nice is judging people before you know them. Give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they are good people unless you are given reason to think otherwise. Learn to see people for who they are instead of judging them for how they look or how they are dressed. It can take a long time to be able to look at a person you don't know without judgment, but this is definitely a great way to be a nice person.

Part 2
Being Nice to the People You Care About

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    Give a small token of your friendship. Whether it's your friend's birthday or a random Tuesday, giving your friend a small gift is a nice way to show how much you care about that person. Make it thoughtful, like a sweater your friend was ogling last week at the mall, a book your friend has been meaning to read, or an album you know your friend will really love; that way, your friend will see that you really care. You shouldn't do it to suck up or for ulterior purposes; just do it to be nice.
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    Help clean up. Whether you're at a party thrown by an acquaintance or you're in the aftermath of the birthday party at your cousin's house, you should offer to help clean up. This is a nice way of showing you care and to make people feel appreciated for all that they do for you. Get a whole cleanup crew going and you'll see that it can actually be fun to help out. Plus, this means that when you throw a party, people will be much more likely to help you in turn!
    • Some people will say that they don't need your help and that they can do it on their own, but most likely, they will just be saying that to be polite. Insist on helping them out unless they really don't want the help for some reason.
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    Be a good listener. One of the best ways to be nice to the people you know is to take the time to truly listen to them. Stop texting your other friend or looking around, and give the person you care about all of your attention as you fully absorb what that person is telling you. Don't interrupt the person right away and let him or her finish before you speak up, and don't automatically try to "solve" the person's problem before fully understanding the situation. This will show the person how much you really care.
    • When you're listening, don't try to relate everything back to yourself or you'll look self-absorbed and like you don't really care.
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    Ask how the person is doing. Just simply taking the time to say, "How are you?" and really meaning it is a great way to be nice to a person. Don't just ask this question in passing, but ask it in a way that really shows you mean it and care about the person and what he or she is feeling. You can of course be more specific, asking how the person is coping with a cold, dealing with a new job, or just how he or she is experiencing a new change.
    • Don't ask the person just to look nice; make the effort to really care about others and how they are feeling.
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    Avoid gossip. Gossiping about the people you know and love is just plain mean. It will definitely get back to them and will make you look like a person that nobody can trust. If you want to be nice to the people you care about, don't talk about them behind their backs; if you have an issue with them, bring it up to that person in a constructive way instead of broadcasting it to everyone in town. Gossiping is mean-spirited and will make you a meaner person.
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    Share. There's something incredibly nice about sharing, whether you're giving a friend half your sandwich or sharing your chemistry notes with a few friends during your study sessions. Sharing your clothes with friends or siblings is very nice, too. This doesn't mean you should let people take advantage of you, but it does mean that it's nice to let people benefit from the things you own and care about. Remember that it's not really that nice to share something you don't care about, but it is really nice to share your favorite sweater with your best friend.
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    Put others first (at least sometimes). You don't have to let people walk all over you to put other people first every once in a while. Let your friend order first at the restaurant. Let your boyfriend pick the movie you're going to watch. Let your little sister eat the last ice cream sandwich in the freezer. Being nice means caring about other people instead of always wanting to do everything only for yourself.

Part 3
Being Nice to People Who Annoy You

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    Keep things positive. Even if you're around a Negative Nancy who is driving you crazy, try to steer the conversation in a positive direction. Whether you're talking to a grumpy classmate or a drama queen sister, try to talk about the good things in life, such as the sunny weather, the holidays coming up, or what fun things you're going to do after school. Get the other person to talk about happy subjects, and you'll be much more inclined to be nice to that person.
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    Always remember to treat people the way you would like to be treated. The golden rule is that if you are nice to people they will treat you in the right manner, and if you are horrible and nasty to people they will think that you're mean and ignore you. However, you may be stuck with someone who is just being nasty to you -- does that mean you have to stoop down to his or her level? Absolutely not. Instead, you should just keep killing that person with kindness -- and get out of the situation any way you can.
    • Of course, this doesn't mean that you should let a rude person walk all over you. You should stand up for yourself, but do so in a kind and respectful way. If that person feels like being rude, don't stoop to his level.
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    Avoid touchy subjects. If you're around a person who you don't generally get along with, avoid the things that you know will make that person upset, or the things that will make you more annoyed. Try to stick to the safe, polite topics, like your health, the weather, or school or whatever it is you have to talk about, and you will be far better off than if you tread on territory that is touchy or immediately controversial. If you want to be nice, then you should avoid pushing a person's buttons -- or having yours pushed.
    • While you're at it, see if you can find some common ground, whether you and that person like the same sports team or grew up in the same hometown. You may be surprised by how much you and the person have in common -- and by how much easier it suddenly is to be nice.
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    Know when to walk away. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to keep being nice is to say goodbye. Learn to pick your battles and stop engaging with a person who routinely annoys you if you can avoid it. If it's a person you have to see regularly, like a sibling, then just remember that it's better to say nothing than to say something that isn't nice. If you know the conversation is getting heated and is likely to make you say something you regret, just excuse yourself.
    • Walking away at the right time doesn't make you a coward. It actually makes you more mature for being able to recognize when something is futile.
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    Try to see it from the other person's perspective. You may find it hard to be nice to a person because you just feel like you're such completely different people that you'd never be able to get along. But if you take a minute to think about where that person is coming from, you may have a better understanding of that person's thought process and intentions. You may not end up being best friends with a person just because you know him or her better, but you may find it easier to be nicer to that person.
    • For example, you may think that a person is really stuck up and mean, but you'll see that the person is treated poorly by his or her own parents, which can lead him or her to act a certain way. This can help you have more sympathy for where that person is coming from.
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    Keep the mood light. If you're stuck spending time with someone who annoys you, try to be funny, goofy, or just plain silly to lighten the tension. Don't take yourself so seriously and don't dig in to the deeper topics. Just try to keep things fun and easygoing, and you'll see that the person is much easier to get along with and be nice to. If you're talking about serious subjects with a person you don't like that much, you'll be more likely to act mean.


  • Remember that certain things that are considered nice in some cultures may in fact be rude in others. Be sure to do some anthropological research before going to different countries so that you may politely enjoy the local customs.
  • Remember the golden rule: treat people as you wish to be treated.
  • Pay attention when the person's talking - don't look away.
  • Try to avoid pointless argument or arguments in general.
  • If a person seems offensive, upsetting, or rude it's usually because that person is having a really bad day, or they're going through a tough time. The best option is to be friendly and nice, even if it's hard. Who knows what pain another is dealing with?
  • If somebody says something rude or nasty, try your hardest not to fight back. For example, if someone says, "I don't like your shirt," don't be mean back, just simply walk away. That will leave them wondering why you were so nice and they might start to be nicer to you.
  • Forgive and forget. If someone hates you, don't hate back - just be nice. They'll try maybe be nicer to you too.
  • If someone does insult you when you are trying to be nice, remember to keep your cool and just shrug it off. Maybe even thank them for their insight (only if it wasn't too rude).
  • Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Think about what they might be dealing with in their life.
  • Try to relate to their situation and give advice so they can get through the it and be with them every step of the way.

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