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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

13 Ways To Be Nice That Will Cost You Barely Anything | Wise Bread

1.  Say "take your time" and mean it. Truly, I am not one of those people who wait until the cashier finishes ringing up all purchases before starting to look for a form of payment; my card-sliding, coin-counting (pre-sorted), and button-pressing prowess has not stopped the next in line from pressing forward, snooping over my shoulder as I finish my transactions, clearly violating my space, and acting as if the millisecond of waiting for my receipt shows that I am hopelessly slow and not worthy of occupying a square inch of shopping floor space. Though I am not patient naturally, my disdain for the hurry-uppers has calmed me and seems to be contagious. However, don't take kindness and patience as license to be oblivious to the needs of others.

2.  Ask your friends if they want to borrow your stuff, not randomly, but upon detection of a need. For example, I offered my pet carrier to neighbors who needed something to transport a newly adopted dog. My sister-in-law bought the carrier for our family so it seemed natural to share this gift. And, when my son's friend went on his first-ever ski trip, it made sense to offer an extra pair of long underwear; they're expensive to buy and easily outgrown by a teenager. I've also been the beneficiary of a offer when a friend let my family borrow his tent for our first scout camping trip; we've since bought our own but it was nice to test drive one (and let our son decide if he wanted to stick with scouts).

3.  Invite someone to join your group: one that meets regularly, such as your book club or mom's group; or an impromptu gathering for a bike ride or potluck dinner. You might be turned down but you also might be surprised, as I have been, at the impact of a quick phone call. I invited someone to my woman's group at church several months ago and was surprised that 1) she had really wanted someone like me to issue an invitation in order to feel welcome and 2) she had been one of the charter members, but had gotten busy over the years with work and single parenthood.

4.  Use your turn signal. Judging from my experience on the road, the turn signal is an under-used but highly valuable device. Whether it is a hand movement on a bicycle or a flashing light on a motorized vehicle, the signal tells the world what you intend to do, enabling other drivers to avoid accidents and more easily accommodate your desires.

5.  Wave. A friendly wave accomplishes two things: 1) says hello and 2) shows that you acknowledge another person's presence. A cycling buddy waves at cars with drivers who pass carefully and patiently wait at intersections. I have adopted his habit and feel that I have joined a cadre of cycling ambassadors.   

6.  Tell someone what others think of them. Make sure it's pleasant and accurate. A kind word can change someone's perspective and help forge or reinforce friendships.

7.  Wait up especially if you are going on a hike or long walk or are accompanied by someone caring with small children. Having been waited on and having waited for others, I can say that a slower pace can mean more meaningful conversations. There are times, though, that I have asked others to go ahead and wait for me at the finish line. 

8.  Return things you've borrowed.

9.  Respond promptly to invitations. It's okay to say "no" but please do it as quickly as possible.

10.  Say "please" and "thank you."

11.  Be sensitive. Just because you have...parents to watch your kids while you go to dinner or spend a weekend away...plenty of money for vacations each year...family members with no medical issues...a great career in a profession widely respected...doesn't mean everyone else does.

12.  Call or email the parents of your teenagers' friends if you have something important to say. Even the best-raised kids and most well-intentioned parents aren't perfect and don't know everything: you may need to alert them to a major school project, a class registration or scholarship application deadline, unsecured guns in a neighbor's house, or drug possession.

13.  Bring extra to share or just share whether you have extra or not. You might bring extra water, Clif bars, or salty nuts on a hiking trip; or a spare tube and Co2 pump on a bike ride. In the past few days, I have seen others share easily knowing that dehydration, tire flats, and such just happen. Being prepared is great; being prepared and understanding is even better. (This one will cost you $1-$2).

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