It pays to learn how to be a nicer person.
But it's not always easy.
When you’re faced with a challenge to your social skills, do you act like a cornered wolf and clam up, or do you try to be kinder and make the other person feel comfortable?
Are you a curmudgeon who takes out your negativity on others because being kind feels like letting down your guard?
Being a nicer person doesn’t just make you more likable and appealing to others.
It also makes you a more confident, happier person. And happiness is addictive — and catching.
Who would want to be less happy?
And how great is it that you can make someone’s day better just by being nice to them?
You can even change someone’s life for the better.
If you’re the least bit curious about why and how to be nice in general — or even when someone pushes your last button, read on.
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- What is a nice person?
- How to Be a Nicer Person in 14 Steps
- 1. Show up on time.
- 2. Don’t criticize or complain.
- 3. Be quick to help.
- 4. Show interest in others.
- 5. Don’t make it all about you.
- 6. Apologize sincerely.
- 7. Don’t gossip or speak ill of others.
- 8. Show gratitude.
- 9. Show thoughtfulness.
- 10. Be authentic.
- 11. Be encouraging.
- 12. Offer advice only when asked.
- 13. Smile more.
- 14. Be compassionate.
What is a nice person?
The word “nice” makes some folks cringe, because somewhere along the line, they picked up the idea that niceness is little more than politeness for its own sake with a dash of fake interest.
It’s not. Nicer people are more pleasant to be around — not because they’re good at faking friendliness but because they treat people the way they want to be treated.
There’s a reason why people distinguish genuine niceness from the fake semblance of it. Nice people enjoy being that way.
People who are a true pleasure to be around treat others with courtesy and genuine kindness.
They use humor only to make others more comfortable. And they’re quick to sympathize with others and express gratitude than to make snap judgments and criticize or complain.
It’s not always easy to be nice.
But there are ways to become a nicer person.
How to Be a Nicer Person in 14 Steps
Read through 14 steps to learn how to be nicer:
1. Show up on time.
If you want to be nicer, arrive on time.
Punctuality shows respect and consideration for the people waiting for you.
They have other claims on those precious minutes you’re wasting when you show up late. Guard their time as jealously as you do your own.
Don’t get in the habit of showing up late, making excuses for it, and wrapping up with something lame like “It’s just who I am.”
It doesn’t help your case; it just guarantees that others will get the message that their time is worth zilch to you.
Genuinely nice people put others first. Showing up on time is a good start.
2. Don’t criticize or complain.
No one wants to be around people who complain all the time. I’m not saying you can never complain; sometimes, it’s cathartic to rant to a trusted friend about something that’s bothering you.
But when every sentence that comes out of your mouth is either a complaint or criticism, the negativity can be overwhelming — and not at all pleasant to be around.
Don’t be quick to pass judgment on anyone based on an assumption you hold (disguised as a fact), but try to see things from their perspective.
And spend more time listening. Everyone may be welcome to your opinion, but your opinion may not be welcome to them.
3. Be quick to help.
When you meet and even anticipate the needs of others, most will notice and appreciate it, although they may not say anything in response at the moment.
Even if no one acknowledges your kindness, it still matters. It makes you a nicer person.
And when it comes to acts of kindness, these don’t all have to be grand gestures.
Hold the door (or elevator) open for others. Mop up spills so no one slips on them. Find water, tissues, etc. when someone needs them.
You might even offer to help lighten someone’s workload if you’ve finished yours.
4. Show interest in others.
Being a nicer person means showing genuine interest in the other person’s interests, beliefs, and customs. Spend time asking thoughtful questions and actively listening to their answers.
Resist any temptation to criticize or even lightly joke about beliefs and customs that differ from your own.
Part of being a nicer person is respecting the different cultures, traditions, and beliefs of others and avoiding any semblance of ridicule or judgment.
If the other person has an accent you love to hear, it’s fine to let them know you do, as long as you’re not interrupting them or abruptly changing the subject from one they’re deeply interested in.
5. Don’t make it all about you.
No one wants to talk to someone who regularly hijacks the conversation and turns it into a rambling monologue: “That reminds me of when I…” or “This is no different from when I…”
When everything someone else says becomes a launchpad to another story about yourself, it doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person. We all have our stuff to work on
But the next time you have a conversation, try to catch yourself when you’re tempted to steer it in a more familiar direction. Spend more time listening and asking thoughtful questions to encourage the other person to continue with the topic of their choice.
Genuinely nice people don’t turn every conversation into an excuse to talk about themselves; they use them as an opportunity to learn more about the other person.
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6. Apologize sincerely.
When a genuinely nice person offends someone — inadvertently or because that someone caught them at a bad time — a real apology is never far behind.
It should go without saying that “I’m sorry, but…” is not a real apology.
So, begin by acknowledging the offense and telling the other person that you’re truly sorry for what you said or did, and you hope they’ll forgive you.
There is no “but….” Do what you can to make amends, and listen to them if they need to say something in response.
7. Don’t gossip or speak ill of others.
This is Nicer Person 101. Genuinely nice people don’t gossip or spread unkind rumors about other people. They also don’t go around asking pointed questions about someone else to get others talking and making snap judgments.
You’ve heard the saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It applies here. So does the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you want to be treated.”
The same goes for pranks and jokes at someone else’s expense. If you wouldn’t appreciate it as someone on the receiving end, don’t do it — no matter how funny it sounds to you.
8. Show gratitude.
Genuinely nice people tend to express more gratitude for the blessings they enjoy — whether it’s the beautiful day, the great food, the helpful waitstaff, or the fascinating project they get to work on.
They also make a point of thanking others for their time, attention, invitations, thoughtful gifts, etc. Some go all out and make handcrafted thank you notes for everything. Others are quick to send a thank you by email, sticky note, or text message.
Match the thank you gesture to the thing you’re thankful for. If someone saved your life, you might do more than leave a sticky note on their computer screen. But buying someone a car because they bought you a coffee might be overkill.
9. Show thoughtfulness.
Nothing says, “I’ve already forgotten why I’m talking to you, random person,” like forgetting someone’s name when they’ve just given it to you.
Granted, we all have moments when something going on in our heads prevents us from paying enough attention to process and retain the name of the person we’re talking to.
But there are ways to help ourselves remember those names, and if you’re committed to being a nicer person, it makes sense to do what you can.
Also, if it’s appropriate, use friendly gestures that show interest and even affection, if there are grounds for that. Give hugs or shoulder touches if you know the other person appreciates them; otherwise, don’t.
Show an appropriate and genuine degree of interest and friendly warmth.
10. Be authentic.
And finally, be the real you – only nicer. Being mean isn’t in anyone’s DNA, and being miserable is no one’s life purpose.
Be the person you want to be and know yourself capable of being. And treat others as though they’re already the best versions of themselves.
There’s nothing fake about genuine niceness, and people can often sense fake niceness from a mile off.
You don’t have to be cheerful all the time or to pretend everything is awesome. Just be real with people, and treat them the way you want to be treated.
So, be your authentic self, but read the room, and look for ways to brighten someone’s day. And if someone criticizes you, know your worth, so you can respond with humility and grace.
11. Be encouraging.
One of the most gracious ways to be a nicer person is by encouraging someone else. It's easy to focus on ourselves and our own problems or goals.
But when you genuinely want someone else to succeed or get through a difficult time, you reveal a level of emotional intelligence not all people possess.
Make it a point to build up those who feel down or insecure. Give them a reason for hope or a positive word to boost their self-esteem. If you have a friend or co-worker trying to reach a goal or finish a project, an encouraging word can be just the impetus this person needs to press on.
12. Offer advice only when asked.
If you want to be a nicer person, don't offer unsolicited advice — even when you know your advice would be helpful.
Most people don't like being told what to do and how to run their lives. They feel empowered when they can figure out solutions and make decisions on their own. And they will learn by their mistakes.
You can impact others more by setting an example with your own choices and behaviors. And if you are asked for advice, offer it gently without making the other person feel small or stupid.
13. Smile more.
Your sincere smile will immediately communicate that you are approachable, kind, and easy to be around. Smiling makes you more attractive to others, and they will immediately be drawn to you.
When you put on a smile, you'll notice people respond more positively to you in all situations.
Smiling releases endorphins and other natural mood elevating chemicals so that you feel happier and therefore more available to be nice to those around you.
14. Be compassionate.
When you're able to relate to the suffering of others and desire to relieve their suffering, the recipients of your compassion will view you as a kind and caring person. So will those who witness your behavior.
Compassion is a powerful trait that reveals you aren't being nice just for the sake of appearances. You really care about those around you and want to help them.
Ready for more nice in your life?
Has this article helped you understand how to be a genuinely nice person? Have we succeeded in shredding the idea that “niceness is fake”?
You know when someone is being “fake nice” to you, but that doesn’t mean being nice is just for superficial people.
You can (and should) be nice and be an authentic person. In fact, being a nicer person makes it easier to be your true self. It also makes it more rewarding.
Take some time today to practice one or more of the steps to becoming a nicer person, and look for some way to brighten another person’s day.
It could be something as simple and brief as a genuine smile, or it could be brewing a fresh pot of coffee when you see the empty carafe.
Be your nicer self today, and keep working at it until it becomes second nature. And may your thoughtfulness and authenticity influence everything else you do today.