When trying to come up with ideas for this blog, I googled ‘Be Nice’. To my surprise and delight, a wikiHow page came up with the title ‘how to be nice’. For those of you unfamiliar with wikiHow, it’s quite literally a website with guides to anything you can think of, sporting the tag line ‘wikiHow to do anything’. From turning on a washing machine to making friends to learning Spanish to drilling an oil well to cheating in a test (seriously, it’s there), wikiHow gives you step by step guides to anything and everything you could ever desire to learn or know about. Since More Good Deeds is all about being nice and kind to people, I thought I’d pick apart wikiHow’s advice on exactly this subject.
Point Number 1 – Smile
Well, as someone who has written a blog on exactly this subject, I concur! Although they don’t go into the recent psychological research why smiling is a nice thing to do, they do explain that smiling puts people in a better mood and if someone doesn’t smile back at you, it’s because they’re in a bad mood. At this point you realise what level of readership wikiHow is aiming at … Anyway, they continue on to suggest you smile at people in the street, smile even if you don’t feel like smiling, and if you really don’t want to talk to people, shut yourself away and listen to music/draw/do something that will make you feel better. Aw, nice advice! Literally.
Point Number 2 – Acknowledge other people
Because no one likes to be ignored … Of course it is ‘nice’ to acknowledge people. WikiHow understands this is difficult in cities because there are too many people and you’d probably look insane trying to acknowledge everyone you walked past. But when you sit down on a bus, smile or nod at your seat companion. When you arrive in your classroom or office, say hello. Additionally, if you bump into someone, say sorry! Yes, wikiHow, good advice there!
Point Number 3 – Ask people how they are doing
I get wikiHow’s point here but when we ask ‘how are you?’, let’s be honest, most of us want to hear ‘I’m fine, thanks’. Unless you’re talking to a close friend, you’re unlikely to actually want to really know the details of someone’s life troubles. And perhaps that’s a problem in itself. Maybe if we all asked that question with a genuine interest the world would be a nicer place. Still, wikiHow suggests it’s nice to ask, which it is!
Point Number 4 – Be a good listener
This follows on nicely from the previous piece of advice. When you ask a question, you should be willing to listen to the answer. Whether it interests you or not, pay attention when other people are talking and ask them engaging questions where appropriate. WikiHow does however highlight that if you’re uncomfortable with the conversation or topic, it is ok to excuse yourself and leave. They also say you can gently change the subject if you’re bored. True, wikiHow, very true!
Point Number 5 – Be courteous
Manners cost nothing, and wikiHow places a great deal of importance on manners, especially in public. They cite giving up your seat on a bus to someone in need (pregnant, elderly, disabled), saying excuse me and helping someone pick up dropped items as acts of courtesy. My favourite line from this part of the article is: “People aren’t the ground that you can just spit on …” I don’t think I could have said this better myself. Being nice to someone through good manners makes the world a better, kinder and more pleasant place to be.
Point Number 6 – Don’t forget to be nice to animals
I love the inclusion of this on the list! As someone with a dog, two cats and a horse, I think it is really important to educate people about the way in which we should interact with animals. Even bugs, wikiHow says, shouldn’t be teased for entertainment purposes. And of course we should never hit an animal. My favourite part of this point is wikiHow’s euphemistic way of giving you an excuse to kill an animal: “If you find an animal of bug in your house, use a humane way of putting it outside or keeping the population down.” Really, wikiHow? Keeping the population down? Anyway, aside from advocating the killing of animals straying into our houses, I agree wholeheartedly with this final point.
Actually, the above points were subheadings under the overarching ‘Being Nice in Everyday Ways’. The site also has the following information which I won’t go into but I do want to mention (they’re all self-explanatory):
Being Nice to People You Know
- Be positive
- Be humble
- Be sincere
- Don’t be two-faced
- Fill your days with small acts of kindness – YES wikiHow! We here at More Good Deeds approve of this point 100%.
- Don’t discriminate
Being Nice to People You Love
- Offer to help
- Learn how to share
- Be reliable
- Take the high road
So there you have it; wikiHow’s advice on how to be nice, an article viewed almost one million times and co-authored by 283 people! Let’s be honest, most of us learned these points when we were young – they’re taught to us by parents and teachers in the hope that we grow up to be, well, nice. It’s not that we don’t know about these traits and it’s not even that we don’t practice them. But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded what qualities are really valued in a person.
Side note; did you know the word nice used to mean ignorant, foolish or silly? A topic for another blog, perhaps …
Go. Do. Experience. More Good Deeds.