My Definition of Nice

Erin - Traverse City, Michigan
Entered on June 4, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Being nice can take you far in life. But what does being nice truly mean? The dictionary defines the word nice as pleasing, agreeable, and delightful. I have always considered myself to be a nice person. I open doors for people, smile at strangers, and make myself available to others when necessary. I have always considered this quality a distinct part of my nature. However, I recently began to reevaluate the importance and meaning of being nice.

As a restaurant hostess, I am supposed to treat all customers like family and I do for the most part. Everyone knows that the customer is always right. But what if the customer is obscene, yelling at me and making inappropriate gestures? Am I supposed to stand there with a dopey smile, nodding my head, agreeing with everything he says? Is this really being nice or am I condoning his actions by not speaking out?

This predicament leads me to question, what is the nice thing to do? Should I keep quiet or should I be straightforward with the customer? I have come to the conclusion, with the influence of others, that most people prefer those who are candid. These “straight shooters” know what they want and speak their mind. They are an open book. This quality allows others to easily see who a person is. However, this quality becomes a downfall when it is offensive. If one begins analyzing others like Simon Cowell of “American Idol”, a definite line has been crossed. In this instance, one’s honesty surpasses nice and becomes rude.

In order to avoid this situation entirely, I choose to be silent. However, being silent comes with challenges. As a result of my dislike for confrontation, I am a pushover at times. This allows others to be mean and disrespectful. Obviously, I do not appreciate this, yet I realize that I am at fault for not preventing this from occurring. Knowing this truth has led me to another discovery. There must be somewhere in the middle where being nice means knowing when to keep silent and knowing when to express one’s opinion in the kindest way possible.

When dealing with an inconsiderate customer, the best thing to do is bite one’s tongue. However, in a different situation, alternative actions may be appropriate. I have learned that being nice is a relative and ever changing concept. To some being nice is overrated. To others it is extremely important and to me being nice means staying true to myself. This means that even though I choose not to overtly express my opinion, I do my best to stay congenial, courteous, and hospitable.