Being nice can give you free stuff

I’ve been gone for a while. Sorry about that! I have no really great excuse. I moved to a new apartment awhile ago and I have been nesting. That’s it. Just making art, and nesting. Working on the next Be Nice. piece actually, which is in its final stages of completion. I hope it will make you laugh.

Anyways, in that spirit, I have a game I think you should play. It’s free, easy, and sometimes you get cool rewards, like free dinner, discounts, or free dessert. Usually you just get a warm fuzzy feeling, so I would let that be your motivation if you choose to play it. People can sniff out others who are looking for a freebie handout, so best to keep your motivations pure. Anyhow, it’s a one-player game, though you can involve your friends. My friend Katie and I like to compete for who can “out-nice” the other in pretty much any situation. Seriously, we do. It’s a blast. But this game is one that you can do whenever, wherever you like, with whomever you choose. And it’s great. It’s called the “Be awesome to customer service professionals until they are smiling, laughing, and happy” game. Not the best name–I’ll have to work on it. But you get the idea.

The rules are simple:
1. Be yourself, be friendly, and be genuine.
2. You cannot know the person–they must be a stranger.
3. Don’t plan it, just do it at the drop of a dime, when the opportunity comes up.
4. Pay attention to the game’s effect on the other person and how awesome it makes you feel (trust me, this game makes it feel great to be you, which is pretty cool).

It is pretty unusual for the “customer” to be friendlier or nicer than the worker, but that is what makes this game so effective. It catches people off guard. And when you do that, you have a better chance of really having a positive impact. Not to mention, when you cheer up that worker, they’ll pay that forward to future customers and friends. Here’s my most recent example of how this can be done:

Last night I was watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. I’m on a big kick and I’m re-watching ALL the old episodes while I sew. I was excited because my husband was off in his studio working, so I had the computer all to myself and could watch my show (he’s not such a fan) for the entire evening. Just me and some tear-jerking drama. I had fully immersed myself in the beginning of season 6. I was invested. Then, out of nowhere, Netflix had a server error. NOOOOOOO! I checked my internet, my browser. Nothing fixed it. How could this happen?! This was my Grey’s night! In a last-ditch effort, I called the customer service number on the screen and after three tries, I got in touch with a customer service rep. At this point I think many people would be pretty miffed. But how could I be? The guy on the other end of the line sounded super friendly, animated, and totally helpful. And I later learned it was his last call of the day, and he was still courteous. I love this kind of Rep.

Naturally I started to chat the guy up: “Where am I calling you?” “Portland, Oregon,” he replied.  “Oh! I am so jealous! What an awesome place to be I hear!…” From there we just rattled away at each other, and it was great. He was just getting off work, and I had the pleasure of sending him into his evening smiling and laughing. Being cheerful–even though I had a reason to be grumpy–had managed to make his night end on a positive note, and it made my little video viewing inconvenience not even matter!

I have plenty of examples like that; a credit card rep in India who I had more in common than I knew–AND who told me some sweet places to go if I ever get a chance to go to his country; an electric company rep originally from NYC who was putting herself through school while working full-time–she was a blast to talk with. An ice cream shop clerk who laughed herself red when I told her about growing up on a farm as a child, chasing giant cattle into their pen with a stick. It can make your evening, it can change your mood. Have fun!

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