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Gray Watson Personal Thoughts 2004.02.25
It Pays to Be Nice

[ I haven't been doing this much lately. Shame on me. ]

Okay folks. Write this down. Well, ok, print it out.

It pays to be nice

You heard it here. Now, I'm not saying that if you give people a smile some fellow will jump out of the prize van and hand you a fat check. I'm talking about the fact that niceness is infectious and you will usually get your pleasant behavior and demeanor reflected back.

Case in point. I have been having a hell of time closing my t-mobile account. It's a long story but they sent me to a collection agency for a early termination fee that I disputed -- be careful when you change your cellphone plan because this can reset your adversary date. We've been getting tons of automated calls from Bay State Collections which say "we've been trying to reach you" which we have been ignoring until we figured it out recently.

Last night I called t-mobile and talked to a real jerk. Mike (#1725399) is going to get a complaint letter from me because even though I was polite and calm and never raised my voice, he refused to talk about the matter. He wouldn't look into it at all. He wouldn't answer any questions. All he would say is "you have to talk to bay state collections". He said it 3 times with pauses after each of my questions, for effect I guess. Ok, so niceness doesn't pay 100% of the time.

But today I call back and talk to Stephanie. I want to marry Stephanie right now. She was efficient, sounded concerned, put me on hold for a short amount of time to check on the right way to handle it, and filled out a "collections request form" for me. I'm not sure what she would have done if I had been as angry with her as I could have been over my call with Mike the night before. Maybe I would have gotten it resolved but I bet she would have tried to get me off of the phone as fast as she could -- possibly without a resolution to the situation.

No, I'm convinced that niceness pays, and I certainly have a lot more evidence to back it up. I've seen my mother get a stranger's life story out of him just because she listens and cares. I've watched her get more information out of a grumpy bus driver than I every thought possible. She collects people like that and it costs her very little -- a minute here and there. What's she's gotten from her investment is lot of good friends from all walks of life. It's always impressive to see and I try to emulate her as much as possible.

I encourage you to be nice to your fellow humans. You should not bank on it but I believe strongly that you will be repaid in full. Stephanie is going to get a shining letter from me for her niceness and helpfulness. Maybe it will earn her a promotion out of what seems to me to be one of the worst jobs -- phone customer service. Mike on the other hand, will be staying at his rung a longer time.

I am reminded of a quote from Garrison Keillor from my quotes pages.

We are great mysteries. No matter what we imagine we may know, even for all the facts we might gather, we don't know each other. Never do, probably never will. Our reputations depend on the opinions of the ill informed. We all have better moments than anybody ever knows, and so do all the others. We are, each one of us, books that are read by critics who only glanced at the chapter headings and the jacket flap. Each one of us is a secret, and on that basis we ought to treat each other with the deepest respect. -- Garrison Keillor, Prairie Home Companion (March 19, 1994)

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